Music from the Big House
Music from the Big House (2012)

In Music from the Big House, Rita Chiarelli, Canada's Queen of the Blues, takes a pilgrimage to the birthplace of the blues, Louisiana State Maximum Security Penitentiary a.k.a Angola Prison - what used to be the bloodiest prison in… More

Directed By:
Rated: Unrated
Running Time:
Release Date: June 1, 2012
DVD Release Date: January 8, 2013
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Critic Score: 45% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews
Robert Abele
Los Angeles Times

Even with a gripping subject like blues-singing convicts, the documentary "Music from the Big House" has a disconcerting emotional distance.

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Benjamin Mercer
Village Voice

It finally feels too cautious, as if digging a little deeper might compromise the prevailing tone of tentative uplift.

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Kathy Fennessy
The Stranger (Seattle, WA)

I've rarely seen a prison film with so little anger, bitterness, and resentment on display.

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Frank Scheck
Hollywood Reporter

Don't look for Elvis in this stark musical doc set in a maximum security prison.

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Derek Adams
Time Out

McDonald's film ultimately boils down to being just another competent but slightly dull prison doc, albeit a toe-tapping one.

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Brian Orndorf

The philosophical and therapeutic value of Chiarelli's mission remains intact, but the moment Music from the Big House reveals its manipulation, it immediately deflates.

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Nicolas Rapold
New York Times

[It] gets across a general notion of music as universal solace. But the filmmakers hesitate at going deeper into the dark places of the prisoners' biographies and the storied prison itself.

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John Anderson

The performances are fun, if musically only adequate -- there are no evident virtuosi languishing within Angola's walls -- and Chiarelli's attempts to frame matters philosophically fall a little flat.

Rob Thomas
Capital Times (Madison, WI)

How do we reconcile the horror of their crimes with the humanity of their music? "Big House" could have gone much deeper in tackling this question, but it does open the door.

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