Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Antonia - A Portrait of the Woman|
Actor: Antonia Brico
Director: Jill Godmilow
Genres: Educational, Documentary
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The Lone Reviewer strikes again.
(4 out of 5 stars)
"*Antonia: A Portrait of the Woman* is the second DVD I've reviewed this month which I've been the first to review. . .At any rate, *Antonia*, which I caught the other night on one of those artsy "indie" channels on cable, is REAL Reality-TV: it's an hour-long documentary about the first woman to ever conduct a symphony orchestra, Dr. Antonia Brico. Though technically directed by Jill Godmilow, she shares a "co-directed by" credit with singer/songwriter/pianist Judy Collins, who was tutored on piano by Brico back in the Fifties. Made in 1974, this classic little documentary (even nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar, if that means anything to you) is truly a case of one artist communing with another, as the movie's design illustrates: much of the film shows Brico simply chatting with Collins at the kitchen table in Brico's Denver home. It's amazing how much ground they cover, given the brief duration of the film. Brico describes her unhappy childhood with a spiritualist mother (little Antonia is told -- by Liszt from beyond the grave -- that she will be a great musician when she grows up), and her early career in classical music, which of course culminated in a conducting job for the Berlin Orchestra in 1929 -- one of the greatest orchestras during one of the greatest eras of classical performances. She pulled it off splendidly, became a worldwide sensation as a "Girl Conductor", put together an all-female symphony in New York with the help of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt . . . amazing accomplishments, one and all. However, it was inevitable that Brico should suffer the fate of all discoverers; i.e., obscurity in later life. By the time we meet her in early-Seventies Denver -- and in her early seventies herself --, she's bitter as hell, despite her naturally good-humored personality, about her status as an "oddity", whilst the then-Soviet Union was granting permanent conductorships to women conductors. In other words, her story is a legitimately feminist saga, back when the feminist struggle actually meant something . . . back when the females in the vanguard were actually brave and talented and worthy of a fair shot. This movie puts the whines and gripes of today's emasculating practitioners of "gender feminisim" in proper perspective. And to show that it's not all hype, Godmilow and Collins permit us to see Brico in action, as she conducts Denver's amateur symphony orchestra. The quite listenable music that she wrings from this motley collection of amateurs is testimony to the fact that Brico was the Real Deal, and deserved much more than ending up as a footnote in Gender Feminism Studies."