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Product Description

When musicologist Doctor Lily Penleric (Janet McTeer) is passed over for a prominent teaching position, she leaves the city to visit her sister in the beautifully rugged mountains of Appalachia. It is here she discovers a wellspring of emotional tunes passed down from the original Irish and Scottish immigrants who settled in these parts. Determined to document the history of the songs, she immerses herself in mountain life, falls in love with a local musician, Aidan Quinn, and is profoundly changed by the generosity, strength, and freedom of the fiercely proud mountain people.

Hauntingly beautiful folk music and stunning Appalachian scenery take center stage in this winner of the 2000 Sundance Film Festival Special Jury Prize for outstanding ensemble performance. Musicologist Dr. Lily Penleric has a deep love of English folk ballads. After a humiliating failure to make full professor, she heads off to visit her sister's tiny school in rural Appalachia and finds herself in folk music central. Lily is entranced, but the locals are suspicious of the outlander's motivations. Issues of tolerance, clashing cultures, and Big Bad Men abound, but Songcatcher wisely focuses on the music. Janet McTeer does fine with the "repressed academic gets in touch with the earth" role, but her truly outstanding work is in revealing scholar Lily's rapture in her discoveries. McTeer leads a truly great cast, including the wonderful Pat Carroll, and a just-for-the-hell-of-it cameo by bluesman Taj Mahal. Songcatcher has a healthy respect for the mountain people it portrays, and an absolute reverence for their music. --Ali Davis

Customer Reviews:

  • Music Great, The Rest ...Forget It
    Songcatcher is all about the music. The movie itself, while photographed in the stunning mountains of western North Carolina, is so transparent in its plotting that every story thread can be seen coming from miles away. But, yes, that music, the old ballads will just make you want to race out and buy all the classic Smithsonian recordings of American music and the very early Joan Baez albums. Emmylou Harris's version of Barbara Allen -- the third or fourth time the song is heard in various versions in the movie, and every one of them welcome -- is defining. And what, pray tell, is Aidan Quinn doing in the mountains of North Carolina -- about as out of place as, in another context, Truman Capote in Kansas.

    Bottom line advice: buy the soundtrack, skip the DVD....more info
  • Appalachian roots are our roots
    Definitely a mixed bag of emotions in this one! Heart-stopping American roots music set in a mish-mash of minor story lines, most of which detract from the overall quality or merely add stereotypes to a movie that seems that it really wants to contradict those very stereotypes. First the good stuff. This is a story loosely based on the life of Olive Dame Campbell came to the mountains and found the treasure of music that make up the very life of these people. She collected the music while it was still raw and founded the roots of country and folk music. Her legacy lives on today at the Folk School ( in North Carolina. The movie features the wonderful simple music of the Scottish and Irish ballads ("love songs") handed down from mother to daughter to granddaughter in these mountains. The acapella voice of Emmy Rossum, operatically trained, with capture your heart immediately and transport you through this musical journey. Pat Carroll as the mountain matriarch is the perfect match for the grandmother we remember singing to us as children, bringing a non-musical voice but a passion to the songs. Appearances from Iris Dement and Taj Mahal and others continue to provide the authenticity to the music.

    But the story lines, including a lesbian relationship, a stereotypical evil coal mine executive who wants to steal the lands from these people poor in material goods but rich in culture (the movie never says why), moonshine drinking, philandering, arson, etc almost make it painful to watch. The writer and producer would have served us better by sticking closer to the true facts behind Olive Dame Campbell and the legacy she and her husband gave us in the music and culture of the Southern Appalachians.

    Buy the movie for the music. It is worth the price....more info

  • Dr. Quinn, Music Woman
    OK, so maybe it's not THAT bad. Still, I was so disappointed by the second half of this film that I can't find a four-star rating in me.

    It's a gorgeous film set in the Appalachian Mountains, an early 20th century story of a highly intelligent lady musicologist who is obsessed with capturing the history of the folk music of the British Isles. When she hits the glass ceiling of her day, her college passing her over yet again for a man in spite of her extreme qualification, she heads for the hills. Literally.

    Her younger sister runs a school in the mountains among that most derided minority, the hillbillies (or, more properly, "mountain folk"). Big kudos to this film for playing more or less fair with the poor people of the mountains, with few caricatures and mostly just good-hearted people who distrust "the world beyond." Here the good doctor finds a wealth of old British folk music that has been handed down from generation to generation, as the ancestors of these folk came from the islands themselves.

    "Songcatcher" is well worth seeing, due to its brilliant handling of its unique subject matter. It is also a cautionary tale for filmmakers who think they have to throw too much into their story. It could be said that the multiple tragedies in this film are a way of thematically representing the repetitive theme of tragedies in the old folk music the doctor is collecting, but it's overkill, pure and simple, and further ruins such effect with a silly ending. I'm glad I saw it, but would prefer to have an edited version featuring only the musical performances, which are stunning.

    There is a lot to love about "Songcatcher." It's a treasure trove for an education in how music was developed in those pre-commercial days, and the lengths to which its devotees had to go for its preservation. If you love any kind of music, you owe a big debt of gratitude to people like this. It is mesmerizing to see the mountain people performing the music of their heritage in its natural setting.

    Beyond that, it's a typical formula story, and that's what leaves me cold about this confused film. Formula element 1: The Outsider who learns to communicate with and appreciate a society in which she is initially very uncomfortable, while said society learns to deal with her as well. Some will not accept her, but she wins most of them over. Formula element 2: A forbidden romance causes serious unrest and, ultimately, tragedy. There are actually two such story lines in this film. Formula element 3: An ambitious woman, living in less rational times, deals with the frustration of being thwarted in her dreams. Formula element 4: The happy ending you could see coming a mile off.

    I really hate that the filmmakers felt they had to throw so many elements into what could have been an excellent little film. Most unsettling is that they set up several confrontations that all reach a climax within a minute or two of each other, completely fouling up the otherwise nice pace they had set to that point in the film's final half-hour....more info

  • Read This Before Buying!
    So far I have ordered - and returned - three of these DVDs. They were all defective 34 minutes into the film. They would black out and then lock up the player so that it had to be turned off manually. I contacted the IFC - who were very helpful - and they put me in touch with Lions Gate Films. They were rude and simply blew me off and could not have cared less. The Amazon folks were very helpful but could not supply me with a viable copy.

    Too bad. It is a great film that captures the feel, the people, and the music of appalachia. I was born there and this film is right on the mark. ...more info
  • Loved it!
    Loved the music! Loved the movie! Makes me want to live there in that time period...guess I'll just have to keep going to bluegrass festivals......more info
  • An "agenda" film that needs an "R" rating
    Songcatcher has all the elements of a beautiful story, rich video and lovely audio work. All that is ruined when the real motivation for the film emerges. It is a no-holds-barred advocacy piece for lesbianism with graphic sexual content that should have earned the film an R rating. How it recieved an PG-13 is probabally another political story...

    Sure, these movies are made and sold, but the buyer should have some idea of what they are getting. The soft sell marketing copy for Songcatcher leaves the unsuspecting buyer with a big "GOTCHA"...more info
  • Could have been five stars ...
    If you like folk music, you will LOVE this movie - as did my wife an I. Overall this is a great movie.

    The only failing is that there several VERY in-your-face lesbian scenes which are completely out-of-place and forced on the viewer (someone responsible for the production of this movie was clearly trying to make a statement about lesbianism). If they had left those scenes out this movie would have been a great family movie.

    Regardless, overall, I highly recommend this film....more info
  • Warning
    I ended up not watching the film past the first minute or so because it is not a letterboxed presentation, as it should be; instead, the film squeezes to full-frame if you do not have a 16x9 television. This creates and off-kilter, headache inducing experience. I was not able to make any adjustment to my TV or my player that would do any good.

    Lions Gate should recall the disc and repress it so it can be watched on either type of television....more info
  • Songcatcher
    We liked this movie and soundtrack so much, we purchased both to view again or to just listen to the sound track. ...more info
  • Intro to bluegrass music
    I was never a fan of bluegrass music until watching this movie on tv. I just had to have this video to watch over and over again. Which I have. Now I listen to bluegrass all the time. I have a new respect for a music that is so personal to the singer. ...more info
  • Beautiful Mountain Scenery And Great Music But Film Has Some Flaws
    Dr. Lily Penleric is a professor of music who, while visiting her sister Elna's settlement school in the North Carolina mountains, finds she has uncovered a treasure trove of lost English and Scotish folk ballads among the rural residents.

    Lily proceeds to record these songs on phonograph cylinders as she comes into contact with local singers and musicians, such as a young girl named Deladis, wise, old Viney Butler and a talented banjo and guitar player, Tom Bledsoe, who becomes her love interest in the film.

    What works about this movie is the outstanding cinematography that successfully captures the green, rugged beauty of the Southern mountains. Also the incredible music, which features classic folk songs such as "Barbara Allen" and cameo performances by Taj Mahal and Iris Dement. But the film's subplots, particularly the lesbian relationship between Elna and an older woman named Harriet as well as the unlikely romance between the intellectual, artistocratic Lily and the hard drinking, hillbilly Tom, seem extremely forced and unrealistic considering the historical and regional context of the film. Also the secondary characters lack nuance and complexity, typically shown as either having hearts of gold, like sweet, innocent Deladis, or as violent, intolerant brutes, such as Deladis' boyfriend Fate.

    I have family roots going back to the early 1800's in the mountains of North Carolina and can promise you that this is definitely a simplified Hollywood version of Southern mountain life rather than a realistic portrayal of this region and it's people in the early 1900's. Still I enjoyed the music and the natural scenery so much that I would recommend it to those who likewise enjoy these two extraordinary aspects of traditional Southern mountain culture....more info
  • Pleasantly surprised!
    I wasn't really expecting much when I first rented this movie because I had never even heard of it, but boy! was I surprised! I absolutely loved it! Bluegrass music doesn't really do much for me, but I wouldn't really call this bluegrass. The songs and music are more earthy and emotional. The characters are so down to earth and real. I loved these people--I wanted to go to the mountains and find people and music like this. I got on the internet and bought a copy of the movie and the soundtrack. I have watched this movie more than any other movie that I own....more info
  • Songcatcher
    A small film filled with unexpected delights, Maggie Greenwald's "Songcatcher" deals with culture clash (North/South, urban/rural) and the fading of traditional folkways, but concentrates mostly on the ruggedly beautiful backwoods music. McTeer is wonderful as the steely, driven Easterner who falls for a prideful local musician (Aidan Quinn), and the rest of the cast--including newcomer/vocalist Emmy Rossum--is terrific. Stunning scenery and hauntingly pure ol'-timey music round out this warm, tuneful tale....more info
  • Traditional music preserved
    The Songcatcher tells the unique story of a college professor discovering traditional English folk music still alive in its original form generations after the immigrants left their homes. The authenticity of the clothing and music is well done and a wonderful story unfolds. There are also stark examples of infidelity, abuse, childbirth and abandonment along with some lesbian issues. Setting these aside this is a wonderful film. Parental viewing with pre-teens would be wise....more info
  • Why had I never heard of this?!
    I rented this movie from Netflix because I was in the mood for something different...when it came in the mail, I read the synopsis and wondered what I'd been on. When my husband and I watched it, though, we were both enchanted. The movie itself is extremely well done, with excellent characters and a good story. The music...well, I'd never encountered this kind of music before, and when I first heard it, I wasn't impressed. But it grew on me quickly, and it's powerful stuff! SONGCATCHER is an awesome film more people need to see.

    Note to the reviewer who was worried about a misinterpretation of "O Death:" as a first time watcher (and listener: I've never heard the song before), my impression of the song matched yours. I didn't notice the movie slanting its meaning. ...more info
  • Songcatcher Will Put A Song In Your Heart
    My wife and I rented Songcatcher not knowing what to expect, but the basic story sounded interesting. Well, we loved it so much we bought the DVD. It's a good story, well told...and the only nit I will pick happens late in the movie--when an ongoing lesbian relationship is discovered (a "local" sees the women kissing passionately). The relationship had already been strongly hinted-at, so the "discovery" seemed gratuitous. And I have read criticism of the story's opening sequence--and the event that sets the table for the whole film: A female college professor being denied tenure, and resigning, to visit her sister who runs a school in the Appalachian mountains. It is argued that a female would never have been considered for tenure in the early part of the 20th century. But rather than debate that, I will only remind of the concept of "willing suspension of disbelief" aesthetic theory coined by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817.
    Songcatcher is a rewarding, lyrical and heartwarming time spent in the world of cinema. ...more info
  • Good Movie, Not a Great Movie
    I enjoyed this movie but it left me lacking. The cinematography was beautiful, I loved the music, and Pat Carroll was delightful. But I felt that the individual scenes and sub-plots didn't always tie together well. When the film ended I felt that I didn't understand why that was the end. The lesbian sub-plot especially seemed odd. And the romantic interest between Quinn and McTeer seems to start abruptly and seems unlikely to occur (outside a movie).
    The scenes and characters do seem to come honestly from the Appalachian hills though. These are people I've met and known in my youth. I would recommend the movie for those interested in Appalachia before the tourists took over, as well as those who are interested in the folk music that lived (lives?) there....more info
  • Catching Songs in the Appalachians
    "Songcatcher" is the "O Sister" equivalent to the Coen brothers' "O Brother,where art thou?" Janet McTeer stars as Lily Penleric,a music professor denied full professorship due to being a woman. Fleeing the misogyny of academia,Lily joins her sister Elna (Jane Adams) There,she becomes one with Nature, meeting the generally noble natives.

    In the Appalachians, there's plenty of drama. Lily discovers-to her horror- that her younger sister is romancing an older woman,Harriet (who bears an amazing resemblance to Jean Marsh in her nurse role in "Return to Oz") Lily meets the musicians (among them Iris DeMent and Taj Mahal) She also meets the alcoholic veteran Tom Bledsoe (Aidan Quinn) At first,he's very gruff with her. Suddenly,they are enamored of each other&they're making love in the wilderness. On top of that,there's a graphic childbirth scene,as well as a love triangle. The natives are restless.

    "Songcatcher" has a strong soundtrack with Emmylou Harris,Gillian Welch, Patty Loveless, Rosanne Cash and Dolly Parton. The plot is melodramatic and stereotypical--but at least it's fun. There's music in them thar hills!...more info
  • Music & Landscape are the Stars of Songcatcher
    Songcatcher is an enchanting film of incredible sights and sounds. Filmed on location in Appalachia, it captures the stunning, harsh beauty of the mountain landscape, while serenading us with the raw, powerful, amazing music that was preserved for generations in those mountains. It is the cinematography and soundtrack that are the true stars of this film, making the story and actors almost superfluous.

    That's not to say that there aren't some fine performances in Songcatcher. Janet McTeer convincingly plays ethnomusicologist Dr. Lily Penleric as the uptight outlander who is captured by the purity of the mountain songs. Pat Carroll delivers the films stand-out performance with her brilliant portrayal of Viney Butler, the tough, wise, resourceful mountain grandma who befriends Dr. Penleric, and who represents the heart of the mountain culture.

    Unfortunately, Songcatcher's story contains some glaring anachronisms which played havoc with my suspension of disbelief, and served as pesky distractions from this otherwise superb film. Dr. Penleric is launched into her mountain journey when she is unfairly denied a promotion to full professor, but in the world of 1907, as a woman, she would not have been any kind of professor at a prestigious university. (This anachronism is even acknowledge in the commentary track on the DVD,) The second anachronism involves the secret lesbian affair of Lily's sister, Eleanor (Jane Adams). While I have no doubt that such relationships happened in 1907, Eleanor's easy and guilt free attitude about it has more in common with our contemporary culture, and rings false for the moralizing Edwardian age of the first decade of the 20th century. In both cases, these anachronisms are crucial to moving the story, and are not easily ignored.

    Despite the problems of the story, this is still an excellent film. It expertly captures the unique mountain culture, as well as offering a visual and auditory feast for the senses. Fans of old time Appalachian music should consider Songcatcher mandatory viewing, and even those without a particular interest in the subject may find themselves swept up by the magic of these songs.

    Theo Logos
    ...more info
  • Charm, Innocence & Life
    This movie took me completely by surprise! Such a moving story of a womans refusal to submitt to inaffectual male domonance and fear. I found this movie uplifting, entertaining and certainly educational.
    As a professional musician myself, I found it filled in a lot of gaps not taught in most college music courses. Absolutely charming, indeed....more info
  • Mixed response
    The music was what i grew up Granny was a singing woman.....i was born and raised in the mountains of Western NC and Eastern Tn. My Great Granddaddy was a music teacher from Keen Ireland.....i know these songs and the people they came from......they are my people...the hymns were as much as part of the air as the songs in this film..hymns were as much a part of the culture as the secular songs....yet, they were completly absent from the movie, giving a very distorted view of the culture. Also, the attitude of the church goers toward the two gay women in the movie was not the attitude of the church people i grew up with ...the moviemakers operated out of the same narrow judgemental perspective as the church goers in the movie. Wonderful character development, Emmy Rossum's voice and charachter portrayal was right on target, as ws some of the others. A few of the more subtle values of the "highlander" culture were wonderfully presented in this movie. ...more info
  • "Songcatcher" Captures the Heart
    "Songcatcher", starring a wonderful ensemble cast including, Janet McTeer, Aidan Quinn and Emmy Rossum, in what I believe is her debut performance, is a beautiful, emotional masterpiece. Beautiful cinematography, rich well developed characters, and stunning bluegrass music combine to make this film a new classic.

    Quinn is as impeccable as ever in this, another of the period pieces which seem to be his forte. The story lines are both moving and beautiful and demonstrate how far one will go to preserve the past as well as how far yet another would go to destroy what he cannot understand.

    Not for the youngsters (adult themes and brief nudity), "Songcatcher" is an intellectual and entertaining film for the mature movie viewer, which, in this reviewer's opinion was an Oscar worthy effort.

    ...more info
  • Loved it!
    Loved the music! Loved the movie! Makes me want to live there in that time period...guess I'll just have to keep going to bluegrass festivals......more info
  • You Gotta Watch It, "First Class"
    A really decent movie, fantastic mountain scenes and the video is of high quality. I also enjoyed the story line. If you enjoy old time appalachia American music and it's real history, give it a try, I don't think that you will be disappointed. I highly recomment this movie....more info
  • Review of the movie "Songcatcher"
    This was one of the best movies Ive seen in a while. It was clean and fun. This movie depicted some of our American heritage showing where some of our music originated and how it was preserved over time. It was a delightful and entertaining movie. I liked the movie so much that I bought movie and the soundtrack. If you a lover of music at all this is a movie not only worth watching but also worth owning....more info
  • Nice Movie with PC agenda
    The other reviews are accurate. This is beautifully crafted film. The plot however turns around a lesbian relationship. Lesbians are compassionate and wonderful, Christians are small minded, ignorant, and repressive. Unless you want to be fed pro homosexual, anti Christian propaganda skip this film, no matter how well made it is....more info
  • Breathtakingly Honest
    Here is a look at the North Carolina Mountain Culture at the turn of the 19th century through the eyes of a rennisance woman with a PhD. in music. It is so much more than the story it tells. It reminds us of our roots and shows us the heartache of ignorance. There are several remarkable characters throughout the movie.I would urge all lovers of the land and life to see this piece that slipped through the cracks at oscar time. The performances are excellent, and it is the first time we see and hear the work of Emi Rossum. Get the sound track also. You will love this one. I wore out my first copy. This review is from my second. I'm not sharing more of the story because it is groundbreaking and I want your experience to be organic. That alone will do justice to this labor of concientious love and integrity. ...more info
  • Extraneous subplots get in the way of the ballads.
    Songcatcher (Maggie Greewnwald, 2000)

    I am usually a big fan of just about anything IFC Films releases, but for some reason I could never put my finger on, I always shied away from Songcatcher, despite being a fan (and, casually, a student) of Mr. Child and his wonderful work collecting hundreds of ballads and their almost endless variations. Turns out I actually didn't have all that much to regret.

    Songcatcher will likely be best remembered for being the movie that introduced rising star Emmy Rossum to the big screen. Rossum plays Deladis Slocumb, an Appalachian schoolgirl who knows how to sing. But I get ahead of myself. The story centers around Lily Penleric (Waking the Dead's Janet McTeer), a musicologist from the east coast who, disillusioned with her suffocating relationship with a married man, goes to visit her sister Elena (Wonder Boys' Jane Adams), a schoolteacher in the wilds of Appalachia. She lives at the town's school with Harriet (Next Stop Wonderland's Kaetherine Kerr), the other schoolteacher, and Deladis. One evening, Deladis absentmindedly begins singing a tune that Lily recognizes as a variation on a Scots ballad, and she quickly comes to realize that the Appalachians have a tradition of ballad variants as yet uncharted. A fine summer project for a young academic who keeps getting passed over for promotion, eh?

    And if the film had stayed this simple, it would have been a fine one. But, of course, it doesn't; the movie was marketed as a love story, and a love story it is, however shoehorned-in that love story seems. And it's a tried old thing, it is, with a plot so fresh it's only be used in a select few dozen thousand Harlequin romances. Lily meets up with Tom (Aidan Quinn), a local guitarist who thinks her work is going to demean the music, and the people, of the mountains. But, needless to say, he's a man, and she's a woman, and therefore there must be a romance. It's extraneous, and rather silly, and gets in the way of the ballads. Still, if you're a fan of Child and his good work, you'll get at least something out of this. ** ?...more info
  • Such an uncommercial movie you wonder how it got made
    This music-based film is set in the early 1900s in the mountains of Western North Carolina (in the area around the Smoky Mountain National Park). A woman PhD (Lily) in music has just been turned down for promotion at her college (obvious case of gender bias) and discouraged, goes to visit her sister who is teaching in a mountain school among the remote group of people who historically are called (disparagingly) hillbillies. Lily has an interest in English folk music and is astonished to discover a treasure of folk music -- transmitted through generations with considerable purity from those brought across from the British Isles by the ancestors of these people. She starts taking down the music with the intent to publish it. Getting the cooperation of these people, who are used to being looked down on and exploited by outlanders, is not easy -- nor is it easy travelling around the mountains with her equipment.

    She gets to know the people, and the audience gets to hear a lot of the hill music she is transcribing -- the music that became the foundation for country music, among other things.

    For those sensitive to such issues, there is sexual content that some (not me) might find disturbing. ...more info
  • Really Disappointed (leave the film in the trash )
    I love folk music as well as the mountain people. When I first started watching this movie I found it very enjoyable. Then the scenes between two lesbian teachers not only once but twice totally ruined the film. It was quite disgusting. The film is rated PG13 but I find that too mild. I would not want my teenagers watching this let alone any smaller children.

    I would suggest buying the soundtrack but leave the film in the trash where it belongs....more info
  • Great Expectations
    I got this movie based on the rave reviews here and expected to hear tons of old time Appalachian music in real mountain settings but what I got was a typical hollywood drama. That is so sad because this movie has all of the potential in the world to highlight the music it extolls but fails to deliver.

    I found that "Where the Lillies Bloom" offers a much better and realistic Appalachian experience....more info
  • Big Bang
    Maggie Greenwald who directed "Get a Clue" with Lindsey Lohan for Disney cable directed this picture. Made in 2000, it did not result in a huge break for her into larger features. Janet McTeer was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for "Tumbleweeds" in 1999, and then took this role as Dr. Lily Penleric. In 1910, Penleric was an anomaly, an independent educated woman. In her era, the glass ceiling was made of opaque colored glass; and she could not get a promotion at her university into tenured faculty. They would bring a man from outside the college so they did not have to promote her. In what was a less than progressive note, the only vote she could get was by having an extra-marital affair with dumpy professor. As a doctor of music who is fascinated with folk songs, her name "Penleric" sounds appropriate like "pen lyric" or someone who writes down songs. She heads to the mountains to stay with her sister, Elna Penleric. Elna is teaching school with another teacher. I'd have to watch the film again to be 100% sure, but I think the character is Harriet Tolliver played by E. Katharine Kerr. While the senior teacher is older than Elna, she apparently has charms that lead Elna played by Jane Adams into a secretive lesbian relationship. Ironically, McTeer's Lily Penleric seems more masculine than her sister. However, Lily falls for mountain man Tom Bledsoe played by Aiden Quinn. Bledsoe has outlived two wives and becomes intrigued by Penleric after initially disliking her. Veteran actress Pat Carroll plays Viney Butler who knows a lot of folk songs that have been passed down from previous generations. Carroll received a Best Supporting Actress nomination from the Independent Spirit Awards for her role. Deladis Slocumb is played by the tuneful newcomer Emmy Rossum who sings sweetly and knows many songs she learned from her family. The evil coal man Earl Giddens who tries to scoop up the mountain farms for coal mining is played by David Patrick Kelly with a sniveling arrogance that makes him fun to dislike. Michael Harding plays Reese Kincaid who two-times his pregnant wife with the wrong mountain mistress and winds up the film with a big bang. Small cameo roles are played by musicians Taj Mahal and Iris DeMent who play and sing with gusto. This film won the Jury Prize from Sundance Film Festival for Best Ensemble Performance. The cinematography is breathtaking and the film reflects values of love, loyalty, respect and abiding friendship that make it overall a heartwarming experience. Enjoy!
    ...more info
  • Bewitchingly wonderful
    Traditional folk ballads like you've never heard them performed before, all set amid the hollers and valleys and mountains of Appalachia. Janet McTeer, she of the luminous eyes, plays Dr. Lily Penleric, an academic in musicology who, when she is passed over yet again for full professorship in favor of a man, hies herself off to visit her sister at the tiny rural school she runs in the boondocks. Many issues are addressed in this stunning movie of surprising depth: racism, tolerance, lesbianism, clashing cultures, big business, repression, women's lot, etc.
    In addition to McTeer, the marvelous Pat Carroll plays a grannie midwife who is a repository for a bazillion "songs," Aidan Quinn plays the love interest who is the bridge between the hill people and the "outsiders," and lovely Emmy Rossum, who has grown up a bit since this movie was filmed and now has the lead in Phantom of the Opera.
    2000 Sundance Film Festival winner of a special juried prize for outstanding ensemble performance.
    Absolutely do not miss this film - and buy the soundtrack.
    ...more info
  • Disturbingly Lesbian Film
    Yes, what looks like a great family film is actually a disturbing vehicle to promote lesbian values. I was so disgusted by the lesbianism and partial nudity that I didn't even finish it. YYUUUUCCKKK!!!!...more info
  • I love a good screenplay
    which is why I didn't like this movie very much. The music was fantastic, the acting was excellent, the photography was beautiful, the editing of the shots and the production were great, but the screenplay was just not believable.

    Some things that ruined it for me:

    The surest sign of a bush-league academic is to insist on being called "doctor". Poor Lily did this over and over in the script. What was the problem? Did the screenwriter not do his/her homework, or were we supposed to think that perhaps Lily didn't deserve the promotion? The former seems more likely to me.

    Lily was having an affair with one of her colleagues? Well, certainly this happens, but it is not consistent with her character's other traits, unless as I wondered above, the screenwriter is trying to tell us that she isn't as independent and capable as she thinks she is. I think it was just a bad idea that didn't get cut.

    Is it really believable that Lily's sister would not have told a dear sister who studies ballads that her mountain girl assistant sings them. I doubt it.

    Would Lily really run through the woods tearing off her clothes in response to a superstition, or was this an excuse to have her uncorseted in preparation for the big sex scene? I think the latter.

    This movie deserved a more believable screenplay....more info
  • Great way to spend a couple of hours.
    This was one of those movies on cable that I had never seen and it really caught my attention one afternoon. I spent the greater part of my youth in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina and have yet to find a place more special. So I also enjoy a movie set in this part of our great country. Fans of East Tennessee State University will also be pleased to find the school listed in the end credits.

    I especially loved the scene as our musicologist flees down the mountain in the dark from an imagined(?) mountain lion. Great scene!

    It's a great little movie that entertains. ...more info
  • Songcatcher
    Songcatcher is both an interesting drama and a showcase for some excellent singing. One of the songs is about a man who has no land of his own and thus cannot court a wife; he imaginatively describes his longing in the song. Viewers with open minds are recommended to this film....more info
  • One of those treasures you stumble across...
    A few years ago, my mom and I rented some movies and somehow we picked up "Songcatcher". Neither of us had heard anything of it and it's not the kind of movie I'd usually watch. However, we were both completely captivated by the film. As has been aluded to by many other reviewers, the music is a character unto itself in this movie and is enchanting. When I saw this movie for the first time, I literally got goosebumps as I heard these beautiful treasures sung with passion and treated respectfully by the film's premise. I think the film could easily have focused on the "romance" of Dr. Penleric, but was pleased and impressed that it instead honored the music as the true "binding thread" for the lives it portrays....more info
  • Wonderful film, but NOT for children
    I have to say that the only reason I gave this film a three star rating instead of a four is the subject matter of the lesbians in the film. I am so sick of Hollywood film makers striking yet another blow for the pro-gay movement. It was so out of place in this film, and as a plot not even believable. The turn of the century was a different time and place and there is no way I would believe these two women would have been tolerated to teach school in this conservative area. Other than that, this could have been a wonderful family film. As it is, I don't go out of my way to reccomend it to people with young children. The music is wonderful and if you love the traditional music, buy the soundtrack cd called "Songcatcher Two." You will love it. The film has a terrific cast, especially Pat Carroll. Fine for adults....more info
  • Wonderful Songs and Characters
    Songcatcher is the delightful story of a woman, who upon learning she has once again been passed over for a professorship, heads to her sister's home in the mountains. Once there, the woman, a musicologist finds a treasure trove of English and Scottish ballads. These ballads had been brought by the townspeople's immigrant families and handed down by mountain folk from one generation to another. As the woman begins to collect the ballads, she learns about life and love but most of all friendship from these simple people who work hard to make ends meet.

    The movie takes place during the late 1800's to early 1900's and is both physcially and musically well portrayed. It also shows prejudice against mountain folk, gay relationships and women achieving stature without the help of a man to take credit for what they've done.

    Of special interest to me was the role the young Emily Rossum played and her wonderful voice. She has recently been seen in the role of Christine in the movie version of Phantom of the Opera based on the Broadway show by Andrew Lloyd Webber.

    ...more info
  • Lovely film, very fine...
    There aren't many musical films that are successful, lately. This one works on many different levels. This year, the film version of "Phantom of the Opera" was released, and, arguably, the best thing about it was Emmy Rossum's performance."Songcatcher" features her film debut, and she sings wonderfully, though in a considerably different style.She definitely displays her future greatness. This is another film about misunderstood cultures, set in 1907. There are the expected "strange" characters, who endear themselves. Unlike other reviewers, I'm not going to blab away the plot. I must say that Janet McTeer was wonderful (haven't seen her lately); Aidan Quinn was solid, as were Jane Adams & E. Katherine Kerr and a powerfully snakey, evil delivery by David Patrick Kelly. The great Taj Mahal has a chance to show his stuff, especially on the DVD extras.The wonderful Iris de Ment also has a chance to shine. Musical director David Mansfield put this all in perspective, and since music controls this film, it's success is very much to his credit. My favorite element of the film was the appearance of Pat Carroll, hard as nails, sweet as her own agenda required. A truly complex and well-layered performance. She was the best.Director Maggie Greenwald should be very proud, presenting a fine, entertaining film. I look forward to her future endeavors. ...more info
  • Good story, even better soundtrack. A must have for musicologists of every ilk.
    I used to live in this part of North Carolina, so the scenery was a treat for me. The history behind that wonderful, culturally rich music was quite fascinating, and the music itself was entrancing. Janet McTeer is superb in her role. Anyone who has seen her portray Vita Sackville-West in Portrait Of Marriage will appreciate the heart-wrenching twist in this story. Colorful, true to life characters will win your heart....more info
  • pure enjoyment
    story of a music professor in search of original mountain music in the Appalachian Mountains. Old songs sung and played as they were either written or passed down. Music played on fiddle, banjo's & Mountain dulcimer (the only musical instrument originating in the United States). Great entertainment for the lover of old time music....more info
  • Nice Movie with PC agenda
    The other reviews are accurate. This is beautifully crafted film. The plot however turns around a lesbian relationship. Lesbians are compassionate and wonderful, Christians are small minded, ignorant, and repressive. Unless you want to be fed pro homosexual, anti Christian propaganda skip this film, no matter how well made it is....more info
  • Excellent Movie!
    This movie is worth buying. The music is so moving and the story is very interesting. I bought this on DVD and had no problems with mine. The earlier reviews made me somewhat nervous about buying a DVD, but I've experienced no problems with mine. Thank goodness, because this is a beautiful movie.
    ...more info
  • Songcatcher
    Great movie. I got it for my dad for x-mas and ended up loving it myself. Well worth the price. ...more info
  • I will never watch this again....
    As a lover of many types of music, this movie sparked my I rented it. I found myself thinking throughout the movie "I can't believe I'm actually watching this. What a waste!" Not only was the plot slow to the point of boring, but the film exalted lesbianism to the point that I (as a grown woman) actually fast-forwarded through a couple of scenes. The small amount of goodness in the movie was not worth all of the disappointing twists and turns of the story. Also, please carefully consider before allowing children to watch!! I will NEVER, under any circumstances watch this movie again. (I want the reader to know that I am in no way a movie critic. I am writing this strictly as someone who wishes to steer others away from what I found to be a complete waste of an evening.)...more info
  • not recommended
    There are a number of problems with this piece. First, it is not a movie. It is a recital strung together with the flimsiest of narratives. Naturally, this will please people who want a recital of this particular music.

    Second, the narrative material is almost solely concerned with feminism: lesbianism, the single independent woman, childbirth, mistreated wives, drunken husbands, too many children, etc.

    The view of the mountain people is totally from the POV of an outsider, not merely the main character (who IS an outsider) but the filmmaker. It's not that the view of mountain people is wholly negative. It isn't. But there is no understanding of these people. The main character does not come to an understanding of them, nor do we, the audience.

    That she would give up her work and her career at the end strains credibility, especially when an eminent scholar comes to assist her and she is thus guaranteed success as well as advancement in her career.

    Finally, what has she got at the end? What and who is the Aidan Quinn character? And what does she see in him? We haven't a clue (except that he IS Aidan Quinn and is cute).

    But then, we should have guessed that this would be a dud from the fact that it won a prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Once again, the name Sundance should be a red flag of warning to all who like a good movie and are unimpressed by the self-appointed arbiters of taste who run Sundance.

    Bottom line: this piece is recommended only for those who want a recital of some mountain ballads. For others, it is a washout.
    ...more info
  • Outstanding Film
    This film explores the frustration of women in academics as well as the beauty of folk mountain culture. Both the acting and the music are outstanding. ...more info
  • Movie video "Songcatcher" is in my opinion the best on-line source for just about everything. Bought my 46" HD tv and other products from books to videos. Amazon is efficient, easy and safe with great customer relations. Have had absolutely not problems doing business with Amazon. "Soncatcher" video quality is great. ...more info
  • At Florida State University this film shown for film class..
    And what an inspiring, muliple-layered story line. The acting was better than I was anticipating given the opening scenes. Once one settled into the story, the acting got better and the focus of the viewer hightened.

    The music -- for me -- was the highlight of the film. So many wonderful songs of the South and the Southern mountains -- music that brings tears to my eyes.

    Please do view the film -- you won't be disappointed. ...more info
  • Little known film
    I got this movie from netflix, and was very happy I did. I was somewhat surprised by the PG-13 rating, because of the lesbian sub-plot, but the movie was incredible. I find it interesting that the only two-star ratings I noticed were because of this part of the storyline. I sometimes think that these homophobes only bother to rate movies with this type of storyline just to further their own homophobic agenda. So sad. Though I am straight, I see no problem with women loving women or men loving men. I didn't read all the reviews, but I wonder if any of them had anything derogatory to say about the man who was cheating on his wife with another women. I bet they'd have had plenty to say if he'd been cheating with another man....more info
  • Excellent
    Ordered to replace a stolen copy. Excellent condition for both DVD and packaging. This one doesn't have a bad spot the original had, either! Was in the process of moving and it came before I had to even worry about it. Thanks! Great job!...more info
  • wow! How come I never heard of this movie?
    The plot is Hollywood enough to make most movie-goers happy, the music is delightful and the scenery fills in the background beautifully. I highly recommend it! I got it for my mom - that's how good it is!!!...more info


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