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Songcatcher (2000)

PG-13 | | Drama , Music | 27 July 2001 (USA)
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After being denied a promotion at the university where she teaches, Doctor Lily Penleric, a brilliant musicologist, impulsively visits her sister, who runs a struggling rural school in ... See full summary »

Director:

Maggie Greenwald
5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Janet McTeer ... Lily Penleric
Michael Davis Michael Davis ... Dean Arthur Pembroke (as Michael Davis)
Michael Goodwin ... Professor Wallace Aldrich
Gregory Russell Cook Gregory Russell Cook ... Fate Honeycutt
Jane Adams ... Elna Penleric
E. Katherine Kerr ... Harriet Tolliver
Emmy Rossum ... Deladis Slocumb
Pat Carroll ... Viney Butler
Stephanie Roth Haberle ... Alice Kincaid
Aidan Quinn ... Tom Bledsoe
Bart Hansard Bart Hansard ... Hilliard
Erin Blake Clanton Erin Blake Clanton ... Polly
David Patrick Kelly ... Earl Giddens
Kristin Hall Kristin Hall ... Isabel
Michael Harding ... Reese Kincaid
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Storyline

After being denied a promotion at the university where she teaches, Doctor Lily Penleric, a brilliant musicologist, impulsively visits her sister, who runs a struggling rural school in Appalachia. There she stumbles upon the discovery of her life - a treasure trove of ancient Scots-Irish ballads, songs that have been handed down from generation to generation, preserved intact by the seclusion of the mountains. With the goal of securing her promotion, Lily ventures into the most isolated areas of the mountains to collect the songs and finds herself increasingly enchanted - not only by the rugged purity of the music, but also by the raw courage and endurance of the local people as they carve out meaningful lives against the harshest conditions. It is not, however, until she meets Tom - a handsome, hardened war veteran and talented musician - that she's forced to examine her motivations. Is the "Songcatcher," as Tom insists, no better than the men who exploit the people and extort their ... Written by Sujit R. Varma

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Music

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for sexual content and an intense scene of childbirth | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 July 2001 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Coletora de Canções See more »

Filming Locations:

Asheville, North Carolina, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,800,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$41,967, 17 June 2001, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,050,934, 9 September 2001
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A number of the extras are part of the old time Appalachian music scene in Asheville, NC. This includes dulcimer player Don Pedi, who also hosts an old time music show on WCQS, Asheville's public radio station. Members of the Green Grass Cloggers (and their children), famous ballad singer and activist Hazel Dickens, Iris DeMent, and other top musicians are shown. Ironically, many of the artists featured are responsible for preserving the musical tradition in modern times and represent some of the finest in their craft today. See more »

Goofs

Kudzu is shown growing in the forest. Kudzu was introduced into Appalachia in the 1930s from Japan to slow erosion. Kudzu would not have been present during the period this movie covers. (Keeping in mind, of course, that in order to produce a film about the Appalachians WITHOUT the kudzu would of course require filming in another region, as to date there have been very few if any successful attempts at denuding their fast-paced growth.) See more »

Quotes

Lily Penleric: Are you drunk?
Tom Bledsoe: I'm not drunk, I'm... celebrating.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Thank you to the people of Western Mountains of North Carolina. See more »


Soundtracks

Matty Groves
Traditional folk song
Sung a cappella by Emmy Rossum and Janet McTeer
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Beautiful Music
22 December 2005 | by oneshortkatSee all my reviews

Songcatcher is a film that shows the side of the mountain people that has been unknown for years. It's kind of like an indie, female version of Oh Brother Where Art Thou, but with a feminist touch and more and better music. The film is very enjoyable with some exceptional acting particularly in the case of Janet McTeer, Aidan Quinn and Emmy Rossum and features some lovely and moving renditions of classic ballads. Maggie Greenwald (The Ballad of Little Jo, for which she wrote and directed) is also both the director and writer of Songcatcher and she has done a fabulous job. The film's focus is on musicologist Lily Penleric (Janet McTeer) in the early 1900s who has just been passed over for a permanent teaching position for the second time. She becomes embittered and decides to leave the school and go to the mountains to visit her sister (Jane Adams) at her school in the mountains of North Carolina. There she learns, to her delight, that many of the old Irish/Scottish ballads have been preserved in their original form, after hearing them sung by her sister's warden Deladis Slocumb (the always delightful Emmy Rossum). After hearing Deladis sing these ballads Lily becomes obsessed with collecting and publishing the songs. With the help of Deladis and her boyfriend Fate Honeycutt (don't you just love these names) Lily goes around the mountain collecting songs. One of her first stops is at incorrigible Viney Butler (Pat Carroll). While she's there Lily meets Viney's grandson Tom Bledsoe (a nearly unrecognizable Aidan Quinn).

The two clash at first but they eventually become, no surprise, romantically involved. Along the way we also meet Lily's antagonist Earl Giddens (David Patrick Kelly) who's has been 'educated' down the mountain and wants to turn the mountain in a coal mine. While collecting the songs, Lily slowly begins to crack from her shell and she learns to love the people of the mountain. The photography in the film is spectacular. It's vibrant and bright with some terrific shots of the wizardly Carolina Mountains. Maggie Greenwald brings the beauty of the mountains out with long-range shots at sunset. As I stated earlier the acting in this film is superb so there are no complaints from me. Lily Penleric was played perfectly by Janet McTeer who seems to be able to convey so much emotion through her eyes. Tom Bledsoe was such a different character than I had ever seen Aidan Quinn play before and it was quite refreshing. He was great as a grumbling, dirty yet somehow attractive mountain man. And Emmy Rossum, in her feature film debut, gives a stunning performance as the angelic voiced ward.

The music in the film is probably it's best asset. Greenwald had actual singers and musicians play the musical parts. Iris Dement and Taj Mahal were just two of the musicians in this film and they added an authenticity to the film. All the songs in this movie were amazing and as soon as I saw this film I went out and bought the soundtrack. The only problems I had with the film are that the plot sometimes seemed a little forced, a little contrived and that there were too many subplots. There were probably in total about seven or eight different plot lines weaved in and out throughout the film. In some films this might work but Greenwald doesn't quite pull it off. The lesbian subplot was not needed at all. It actually took away from the authenticity of the film and didn't seem to fit in with the time period, which was the late Victorian era. Overall I would definitely recommend this movie, especially to those that really enjoyed movies like Oh Brother Where Art Thou. This film captivates the beauty of the Carolina Mountains and shows what the music of the mountains is really like.

"Your music is like the air you breathe" Lily Penleric, Songcatcher


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