- This movie speaks tons 5/15/2012 12:00:00 AM by dylandawg87
Music from the Big House begins humbly enough, with a myriad of inmates telling their musical roots. Rita Chiarelli seeks to go back to the roots of the blues, Angola Prison Louisiana. This is where the magic happens. Taking the time to assemble 4 different bands, Rita masterfully guides the inmates learning their past, while teaching her own. Together they make nothing short of a masterpiece. Music from the Big House grants a beautiful look into the hearts and souls of these men. Introducing you to the new souls, the men of hope, looking out of their harrowing homes and into the heavens for salvation. Rita becomes their angel in garb, dealing out guitars, keyboards, and drums; making the blues resonate from the stonewalls of Angola Prison. I loved the simple black and white film, each shadowed grain only intensified emotions of the graveled voices. Chiarelli guides us humbly, granting us with an open-hearted look into the real men and their music.
- Prison, Blues and Spirituality 2/28/2013 12:00:00 AM by pcasstjake
Music From the Big House was beautifully created to tell an impactful story in the form of a documentary. Unlike most documentaries that simply tell cold, hard facts about an issue through a monotonous narrative, MFTBH captures the mind and heart simultaneously through an image-driven journey. It follows renowned Blues artist, Rita Chiarelli in her quest through the Angola State Prison in Louisiana, were she attempts to both heal and reform inmates through experimentation with Blues music. Chiarelli deserves recognition for this spectacular film and all that she does. In our society, we tend to forget that prisoners are human too and despite their mistakes they have thoughts running through their minds and emotions coursing through their veins. She gives them a chance to prove themselves and make something of their lives, where most of us would not even dare. Throughout the documentary one develops a connections with several of the Angola Prison inmates that are interviewed. This film succeeds in helping the audience view prisoners for more than just their crimes. An unconventional feat, it is an inspiring story that attempts to progress societal views and reform the prison system. It is a must watch.
- Music. For Live. 8/15/2012 12:00:00 AM by robertpeck111
Music from the Big House left me with a different point of view of prison life and the inmates within the walls. Rita Chiarelli was fantastic performing the blues with the inmates of Angola Prison. This film was outstanding documentary! I have recently purchased the DVD and it was well worth it! It includes concert extras, bonus scenes, and these four walls stills video! I'm so glad I have the "these four walls" video, absolutely my favorite song in the film. I have never felt so close to people within a documentary. These bonus materials help complete the essence of the movie! I'm so glad I got the DVD for the extras!
- Great Music, Great Story, what else do you want? 7/27/2012 12:00:00 AM by brownkt3
I can only echo what has been stated by majority of reviews here. This movie takes a warm and engaging look at the blues and roots music coming from Angola Prison Louisiana while balancing that with the reality of the men that live behind bars. We don't learn a lot about why the men are doing time, but this adds an ability to empathize without being pushed to judge those same men. The cinematography is beautifully shot and the action paced well, interspersing forward movement with history and biography. Nor does the film avoid the gritty and dismal living conditions at the prison. The music for the men in Angola becomes a much need cathartic and creative outlet. And the music itself is great. Regardless of your musical preferences it would be hard not to find sympathetic joy from seeing the performances. Chirarelli's performances are great and it's apparent from the start that she genuinely cares about the men she performs with. Overall, Music from the Big House is a great story with great music, what else could you want?
- Not your typical garage band 7/18/2012 12:00:00 AM by anastasia1053
Watching Music from the Big House is like diving into a world that society has long forgotten and chooses not to remember. The black and white exposure of the film gives it an interesting take, reminding the viewer that sometimes life is lived in the gray. It has a particular raw footage grounding effect in part due to its inspirational original music and camera work. It takes you on a journey as if you were seated shotgun during filming. While it's not a story of second chances or new beginnings it reminds us all that life is what you make of it and you must make due with what you have. The film does an extraordinary task of distracting you from the real nature of the individuals being documented, only then to bring you back to a sense of reality right before rolling the credits.