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What We're Watching: Black Snake Moan

Posted on Friday, August 24th, 2007 7:20 PM by Scott Jentsch

The movie "Black Snake Moan" looked pretty interesting when it was released in theaters in March. Its poster art that depicted Christina Ricci in chains surely raised a few eyebrows, and maybe turned a few people away from a movie that was actually better than I expected it to be.

My Netflix rental queue finally bubbled the HD DVD of "Black Snake Moan" to the top and I had the chance to watch it the other night.

First off, the Blues music is incredible! The music acts like a supporting character that is in every scene of the movie and sets the tone required for each and every one. Watching the extras, I found out that Samuel L. Jackson learned how to play guitar so that his hand motions would match the guitar playing by Kenny Brown and others.

The music is integral to the movie that it should have done for Blues music what "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" did for Bluegrass music. However, I think the subject matter kept this movie from reaching the kinds of audiences that the latter movie found.

That brings me to that subject matter. Basically, it goes like this:

Christina Ricci plays a young white woman who has a sex addiction due to an abusive past. Samuel L. Jackson is an aging blues guitarist turned vegetable farmer whose wife just left him for his brother. (He works through his anguish by plowing through her rose garden with his tractor!) One morning, he finds Ricci's character lying by the side of the road, left for dead after being beaten after a party the night before.

Believing that he has been called by God to "heal the woman of her wickedness," he nurses her back to health, but also chains her to a radiator in his house to keep her from continuing down her path of destruction.

Both performances are excellent and while the content may not be suitable for some people, I think the movie is very much worth watching. The extras mention that the movie should be viewed as the telling of a fable, which makes the whole "chaining "thing a little easier to get past.

Watching "Black Snake Moan" made me investigate the Blues artists involved in the making of this movie. Even if you don't care for the movie, you may want to check out the soundtrack!



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