I was fortunate to see this performed live at Duke University, with the musicians on stage and the film projected behind them, and it was spellbinding. I was thrilled to see it come out on DVD, and bought it immediately. I admit I've only watched the film again once since then, but I listen to the soundtrack at least once a week - it's that good. As one of the other reviewers noted, this is worth it for the music alone - it's a mix of melancholy and joy, and can be both calming and exiting at different times. If you are a fan of Bill Frisell, or just jazz and blues more generally, pick this up. As other reviewers note, the film is not a documentary - it's clips of archival film footage set to music, vignettes that, alongside the music, make you feel like you were there by the river when the flood happened, or that the events of those days are appearing to you in a dream or distant memory.
I'd probably give it a split review of 4/3: 4 because it's an innovative use of period film (yes, from 1927) and the music is very enjoyable; 3 stars b/c I won't be watching it a lot. There is no voice-over to tell you about the flood and the fallout, although there are occasional black screens with section titles and a little writing. But being a Frisell fan this was very much worth it.
Though you'd be underestimating the quality of the documentary, as well as creativity if not originality of this musical cinematic presentation (not the first time broadly similar projects, if rare, have been produced). And for most, this DVD -- I purchased the HD streaming version, as inexplicably no blu-ray is available, despite it's being the format this project deserves -- will be the only opportunity to view the film or listen to one of the best musical compositions from Frisell in some time. Should attract and appeal to more sophisticated cineasts and audiophiles, especially fans of Morrison's previous media projects, Bill Frisell and/or contemporary jazz.
To date, no separate soundtrack is available, nor is one apparently planned.
A thoroughly enjoyable pairing of musical and visuals—many surprising visuals—that enriched my perspective on the Great Flood and its role in the Great Migration. And the soundtrack is gentle, lovely and unpredictable—another work of genius by Bill Frisell
Love the river, love the images from the Great Flood of 1927, love Bill Fresell (seen him live and enjoy several albums a lot), but this film left me flat! I felt the music, while enjoyable, was not in sync with the images in many places. I also was yearning to know the stories captured in the images that the music couldn't tell.