The cult film by John Landis is rebroadcast this Sunday evening on Arte.
A duo of characters created on the small screen
Released in 1980, The Bluesbrothers depicts two brothers – one of whom has just been released from prison – who will move heaven and earth to raise the 5,000 dollars essential to prevent the closure and eviction of its forever premises from the orphanage in which they were raised. The brothers Jake and Elwood Blues, two characters created by their two interpreters, John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd, on the set of the irresistible weekly TV show Saturday Night Live of which they were one of the pillars. It’s Howard Shore – the future composer of David Cronenberg’s film soundtracks, Oscar winner much later for The Lord of the Rings – who had the idea of the name The Blues Brothers and encouraged them to record an album in 1978 Briefcase Full of Blues for which Belushi and Aykroyd were going to create the backstory of their two characters. The album is a hit, they then begin to give a series of concerts whose sold-out halls necessarily make Hollywood studios want to seize it. The fight between Universal and Paramount will be intense but Universal will end up triumphing. And in the production, the studio, like the Aykroyd-Belushi duo, agrees on the name of John Landis who co-wrote the screenplay four hands with Aykroyd. Landis who was then releasing some great public successes: the sketch film Hamburger film sandwich and American College where he was already directing John Belushi. A paid choice. Despite a lackluster American review, The Blues Brothers will be a hit and will almost instantly become cult.
A demented guest cast
This cult status, The Blues Brothers it also owes it to its cast of rhythm’n’blues stars brought together in front of the camera by John Landis. A legendary trio made up of James Brown, Aretha Franklin and John Lee Hooker. The director explains that, as the fashion was disco at the time, these stars gave fewer concerts and therefore had time to devote to this type of project for which the Aykroyd-Belushi duo had wanted to put their notoriety at the service of a spotlight on this black American music that they loved so much.
A cult final scene
The Blues Brothersit’s a genius duo, an insane soundtrack (signed Elmer Bernstein, the composer of Seven mercenaries but also ofAmerican college for Landis) and a car chase scene, which has remained in the legend of the seventh art. With on the screen, no less than 35 cars tumbling through the streets of Chicago at more than 160 km/h. A moment made legendary by its production entirely in real shots, without using the slightest special effect. A first for the city whose mayor had never authorized the filming of such a sequence and which took place very early during a holiday weekend. All without any prior rehearsal. A tour de force and a brilliant stroke of madness.