‘In The Blood’ – Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus.

At the start of the week I watched a show where Stephen Fry visits the United States and travels around the country getting to know a little bit about eahc place he visits, its culture, its architecture, its religion and ultimately its people.  It was an interesting journey from the norht, down through the Carolina’s, Gerogia to Florida and back up towards the Mississippi.  This reminded me of a film I have called ‘Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus’ in which musician Jim White takes the film makers on a journey through the deep south of the United States in an attempt to understand the this part of the United States a little better.  The conclusion is that to truly understand the people and practices of the deep south it has to be “in the blood”.  Interestingly, White himself is not a southerner by origin, hailing from California before being moved south by his parents.  He acknowledges that he never understood the attraction or beauty of the south and wanted to leave as soon as he could.  Only through leaving the place did he really understand what the south was about.  As we travel through swamps, down dirt roads, through towns – only a half mile wide – we learn that ultimately there are 2 options in the south – to choose Jesus or to choose Hell.  As White so poignantly puts it; ” if you had to choose between grief or nothing, you’d choose grief……at least grief lets you know you are alive”.  This leads the film to investigate the 2 very different paths adopted in the south.  We visit bars, prisons and a variety of churches and places of worship in an attempt to confront both the demons of White and the deep south on a much deeper and wider level.  This is a lovely piece of film-making.  Not only a film, almost a musical as artists such as the Handsome family pop up from time to time playing songs at petrol stations, in pool rooms, in hairdressers all as White and the various characters he encounters disucss the culture of the deep south.  The most beautiful thing about the film – that was never meant to be a documentary, just one particular take on life in this fascinating area of America – is the excellent regional music to underpin and accentuate the overall atmosphere it portrays. Vivid, curious and sometimes more than a little disturbing, it is as much a work of art as it is a film and one I would encourage people to embrace.

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