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Film Series : Viewing Positions

The Blood of Jesus

1941, Spencer Williams, USA, 57 min.
With Cathryn Caviness, Spencer Williams

Show Times

  • Tue, Dec 10th 6:00pm

"One of the most visionary movies ever produced in America."—J. Hoberman, The New York Times

Though better known as an actor (TV's Amos 'n' Andy), Spencer Williams was second only to Oscar Micheaux as an auteur of "race movies"—low-budget films aimed at African American audiences as an alternative to racist Hollywood product. Widely considered Williams's greatest achievement, THE BLOOD OF JESUS was the first race movie selected for the Library of Congress's National Film Registry, and in 2008 it was named by Time magazine as one the Top 25 Important Movies on Race. In this deeply felt religious fable set in the rural South, devout Martha Jackson (Caviness) is accidentally shot by her non-believing, hog-thieving husband (Williams). As she lies in a coma, her soul embarks on a journey that takes her from the temptation of a big-city juke joint to a climactic struggle at the crossroads of Hell and Zion. The storybook directness of the images is counterpointed by a rich soundtrack of nearly non-stop music, ranging from hymns to blues to jazz. DCP digital. (MR)

Coming in 2020!

Watch for our next series, From Asia, With Love, beginning January 28, with weekly Tuesday lectures by Jennifer Dorothy Lee, Assistant Professor of East Asian Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. This series will examine how new uses of moving image and sound in cinema from Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, and China demonstrate the intense preoccupations of their filmmakers. Themes of national loss and cross-border tensions, of seeking revenge and settling debts, and of transcending the unbearable present in the fantastical will be explored. Films planned for screening include Takashi Miike's AUDITION, Kinji Fukasaku's BATTLE ROYALE, Park Chan-wook's LADY VENGEANCE, Bong Joon-ho's MOTHER, Hideo Nakata's RING, Stephen Chow's SHAOLIN SOCCER, Edward Yang's TAIPEI STORY, and Ang Lee's THE WEDDING BANQUET.

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