Is The 1941 Film, “The Blood Of Jesus,” Worth Watching?
Technically The Blood of Jesus (1941) is quite bad, and this includes the acting. An American indie film, it was directed by a black director-writer, Spencer Williams, and features an all-black cast in what is a sincerely, thoroughly Christian piece of work. Beyond the technical shortcomings, though, it offers not much more than theological fantasy, by which I mean its theology is usually dubious or even nonsensical. But not always.
A new convert, Martha Jackson (Cathryn Caviness), is accidentally shot by her feckless husband and undergoes what I take to be a near-death experience. Her spirit leaves her body and, in a transcendent world, she is persuaded by a henchman of the Devil to enjoy the pleasures of the juke-joint life she undoubtedly never knew when she was on earth. But the Devil has prostitution in mind for Martha, and of course she flees. She resists the temptation. Running to what is called the Crossroads in this supernatural sphere, she beholds an image of the crucifixion and is treated to the salvific blood of Jesus.
Okay, but why Martha would encounter such goings-on in the next world I have no idea. Being a Christian, she dies—or “dies”—in a state of grace, and yet the Devil is there to tempt her. Possibly we can see an implication here that the blood of Jesus Christ is to be applied to human beings for the whole of eternity, for the moral perfection of man can never, or will never, be dissociated from it. The movie’s appreciation for the salvific blood, in any case, is real and deep, and the scene where the blood starts dripping on the prostrate woman’s face has an impact. I sense that it’s one thing that does make the film worth watching.
There is also some enjoyable music and dancing in The Blood of Jesus. It’s a low-budget curio more interesting than good, and, yes, it is worth watching.