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Songcatcher – Reviewed by Doug Boilesen


This is a wonderful movie about a woman who visits her sister in the Appalacians and has her life transformed.  Janet McTeer and an Edison Phonograph are the stars of this movie that is set in the backwoods of Appalacia in 1907.  As a musicologist who has just been rejected for a professorship, Janet visits her sister to sort things out but discovers “lost” Scots-Irish ballads that have been preserved from generation to generation and incorporated into this isolated culture.  Janet’s character views this as her archaeological discovery of a life-time and a way to recover her academic career.  Love of the music and eventually a man changes this academic pursuit and she becomes captivated by the people and their culture. 


The music is memorable in this movie with many great phonograph scenes as the phonograph is used throughout the movie to “record” her discovery.  Though this movie is rated PG, the viewer should be warned of one tragic scene where a phonograph, being transported through the mountains in a wagon, goes crashing to the bottom of the hill.  Mothers, please cover the eyes of your children during this disturbing scene.



Click here to listen to an excerpt from the movie "Songcatcher" (Note: click on Songs, then the speaker icon next to the song, e.g., two of my favorites, 2. IRIS DEMENT "Pretty Saro" and 4. EMMY ROSSUM "Barbara Allen" after going to the vanguardrecords website).  


Click here for other images from the Songcatcher courtesy of Lions Gate Films and IMDb