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Charles BurnettA Cinema of Symbolic Knowledge$
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James Naremore

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520285521

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520285521.001.0001

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Warming by the Devil’s Fire (2003)

Warming by the Devil’s Fire (2003)

(p.177) Eleven Warming by the Devil’s Fire (2003)
Charles Burnett

James Naremore

University of California Press

Warming by the Devil’s Fire is one in a series of films on blues music produced for television by Martin Scorsese. Burnett’s episode is by far the best of the series, in part because it shows the culture of poverty and brutal labor out of which the blues were created. The film contains powerful archival footage of southern black musicians and the world in which they grew up. Interwoven with this material is a fictional but highly autobiographical story about a boy from Los Angeles whose grandmother sends him to visit relatives in Vicksburg, Mississippi. She hopes he will learn about old-time religion, but he falls into the hands of a ne’er-do-well uncle who is a passionate blues historian.

Keywords:   blues music, blues history, southern black history, autobiography, religion, sin, Vicksburg, New Orleans, Storyville, Congo Square, documentary versus fiction, women blues singers, adolescence

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