Skip to main content

Fim Review- The Songcatcher

The Songcatcher is set in 1907 and follows the experience of a female Professor of Musicology, Lily Penleric, who when once again rejected for tenure decides to visit her sister, Eleanore, who has a school in the wilds of Appalachia. Once there Lily discovers that the people of the region have handed down Old English ballads from generation to generation without adulteration by the outside world. She begins to collect these works by recording them on gramaphone cylinders and writing the songs out, but there are more than a few challenges to contend with.

Viewers are not likely to recognize many of the actors in the film, with the exception of Aidan Quinn who plays a war veteran named Tom Bledsoe. He is initially very suspicious of Lily, and their relationship gets off to a rocky start, but soon becomes just what you expect. Things you might not expect include; Lesbianism, stripping naked while running from wild animals, cars driving up the mountains, and Bible-tent murder.

The screenplay was written and directed by Maggie Greenwald, for whom this was her best-known film. I found it at times very predictable with a lot of stock characters, like Earl Giddens, the representative of a Coal-mining firm that wants to buy everyone's land, and the ending was exactly what I was expecting from the start.

Having said that there were some things that I very much enjoyed about the film. It was not another Edwardian comedy of polite society, and the plaintive songs were just what I was craving when I selected the movie. I liked that Lily never entirely became just one of the mountain folk, that would have been too easy and wrong for the character of someone who has struggled her whole life for professional recognition; but she did bring a perspective of value to something which they took for granted almost, and that in turn gave her a certain standing in their community.

In short, don't watch this film for it's award-winning performances, there aren't any. Watch it for a story more rarely told, and music beautifully and realistically rendered.


Popular posts from this blog

Italian Renaissance Hairstyles

In keeping with my last post on Italian Renaissance costume I thought we would take a look at something we didn't touch much on; hairstyles. They were extremely varying; up and down, braided, netted, entwined with silks and ribbons, even pearls, and, of course, dyed, bleached, and curled. The only thing in somewhat short supply seems to be hats, and really who would want to cover up what you had spent so much time constructing?

Occasionally a small cap, or scuffia, was worn either with side curls, or with most of the hair stuffed up underneathe:-

Another notable hair decoration was the reta, or hairnet. Some of these were beaded, some woven in decorative patterns, and some left very simple.

Under and around these ornamentations, or even without them, hair was often braided or crimped.
There was the simple modesty of a veil, if you felt the need to cover up... Or, if blending into the background wasn't your thing, there were big turbans, or simply huge ones. 

And, of course, the…


How Our Ancestors Slept

As someone who wakes up during the night feeling frustratingly refreshed...and then struggles to rise in the morning, I found this article to be a kind of vindication. Apparently the way we sleep has changed. For more information you can visit the link here.