Saturday, 29 December 2012

Glenn Marzano: Stop Breakin' Down (A short film about Robert Johnson)

I completed "Stop Breakin' Down" in 1999 while a student at Loyola Marymount University. It was my thesis project. Synopsis: Who was Robert Johnson? The world knows him today as one of the fathers of the Delta Blues. But who was he, really? Everyone who knew him had a different opinion. To his field-hand stepfather, Robert Johnson was a dreamy kid who refused to work in the cotton fields and longed to play the guitar. To Blues great Son House, Johnson was a pesky teenager trying to wish himself into being a great guitar player, a dime-a-dozen kid without talent but desperate to succeed, who hung around juke joints bothering musicians to "sit in" on a set. To itinerant blues guitarist Ike Zinneman, Johnson was an ambitious young man who absorbed the guitar technique of other musicians like a sponge, a kid with a phenomenal ear for music who became great faster than anybody could have imagined. To the audiences who heard him play all over the South and up into Chicago and New York, he was the arrogant, handsome black man who played better than anybody had ever played, who wanted greatness so much that he went down to a Mississippi crossroads one midnight and sold his soul to the Devil in return for a short life and a talent that would live forever. "Stop Breakin' Down," looks at these different interpretations of Johnson's life. The script is structured around the night of his murder, linked to flashbacks to his youth, his relationship with Son House, and two possible reasons for his sudden acquisition of the blazing guitar technique: the crossroads legend, and the influence of Ike Zinneman. (25 minute Short Film)

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