The Man, The Myth, The Devil
Set in the heart of rural Mississippi, Devil At The Crossroads is an interesting look at Blues legend Robert Johnson. With little known about the man, most of what we know comes from fragments of facts confined to documents and his lyrical content. With a mix of archival footage and rhythmic blues music, various musicians and family members paint a portrait of a man as mysterious as he was mythical.
Beginning with a brief introduction to his upbringing, Devil At The Crossroads goes on to depict a story of a man who discovered blues music and rose to infamy after a brief hiatus from the scene. When he returned from his short break, his music playing was unrivaled from those in the scene. As rumours began circulating, many speculate that this man struck a deal with the devil himself. That deal revolving around being the best Blues singer and guitarist in the world in exchange for giving up his soul. The legend goes that this day eventually arrives and after falling ill and taking several days to go, his brief stint at the top of the Blues podium was always destined to fall down thanks to the deal he made that day at the crossroads.
Of course, whether you choose to believe this legend or not is up to you but there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable and interesting ride nonetheless. In true ReMastered style, there’s a good balance between the history of the region and the cultural feel of the time period along with a look at the actual artist themselves. Given the lack of archival footage recorded of this singer, the documentary bridges the face to face interviews together with various archival documents, parts of his music and other musicians playing their renditions of Robert’s music and what he means to them.
While the film is still interesting and has some iconic moments, most of the documentary lacks a compelling edge. This is backed up by the hand-drawn elements that show a recreation of the iconic moments in Robert’s life that feel more like a story than an accurate model of his life. Despite weaving an interesting and compelling tale, Devil At The Crossroads pales in comparison to the other films under the ReMastered umbrella. If you can go into this one with an open mind and take to the story being told, there’s certainly enjoyment to be had but compared to other documentaries, Devil At The Crossroads doesn’t quite have the same appeal to help it stand out.