Sunday, September 12, 2010

viff 2010 | rejoice and shout

USA, Don McGlynn, 115 min.
Don McGlynn has made films about musicians as diverse as Glenn Miller and Howlin' Wolf, and in this, his most ambitious film to date, he uncovers the progression in gospel music over the course of two centuries. A rousing combination of rare vintage clips, probing interviews and fantastic music will, indeed, make you want to rejoice and shout.

As The Soul Stirrers belt out “I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord,” you may just find yourself wondering, “Where can I enlist?” Such is the sway of Don McGlynn’s rousing testament to American gospel music. The veteran music documentarian strikes all the right chords here, offering both a history lesson on African-American Christianity and a jubilant ode to religious anthems. Connecting the dots, McGlynn makes a convincing argument that the plantation music of two centuries ago is the root of all American music. Likewise, he submits that The Dixie Hummingbirds begat The Temptations and Claude Jeter’s trademark falsetto set the stage for Al Green's lilting vocals.

Should such seminal artists’ names not register with you, fear not. McGlynn unearths rare audio recordings (including the first known gospel record) and live footage in order to offer up a sinful serving of devotional music in all of its strains. A Memphis Holiness Church sermon exhibits the ferocity of an underground rock show while Mahalia Jackson’s soulful Ed Sullivan Show performance would have you believe that angels walk among us. We’re also treated to a historical showdown between the Alabama and Mississippi factions of The Blind Boys in which the weapons of choice are pipes (as in vocal chords). “The winner was always going to be the audience,” recalls gospel music historian Bill Carpenter. “They knew they were going to get a great show.” That still holds true today.

Fri, Oct 1st 2:30pm | Granville 7
Wed, Oct 6th 6:40pm | Granville 7
Mon, Oct 11th 12:20pm | Granville 7

VIFF page

1 comment:

Rosie Perera said...

I saw this on Monday. It was indeed good. It had the audience clapping in applause and clapping along to the rhythm at several points. Sad to see that two of the musicians interviewed in the film died before it was completed, and it was dedicated to them.