Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Song of the Lark|
Actors: Alison Elliott, Maximilian Schell, Tony Goldwyn, Robert Floyd, Linda Carlson
Director: Karen Arthur
Genres: Drama, Television, Mystery & Suspense
Radiant: Song of the Lark
G P Padillo | Portland, ME United States | 09/06/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I reluctantly watched this last evening and am glad to report I was more
than than just pleasantly surprised. It had that good old-fashioned
Masterpiece Theatre feel to it which I remember from when I watched more PBS
in my youth. In fact watching this, in a very big way, returned me to my
youth, reminding me of my own innocent passions. I can picture other kids
living in "nowhereville" watching this and sense their growing youthful
aspirations of achieving greatness and leaving those stifling towns for
As a highschool fan of Willa Cather - after being forced to read "My
Antonia" - it was nice to see such a fine treatment of this moving novel.
Allison Elliot's Thea is a strong young woman, as she would have to be in
the world which the film shows - mostly dominated by men. In fact the film
has its own late romantic operatic touch in that Thea, a Swedish minister's
daughter, is the only central female character, and she fits into this
"men's world" quite easily.
It is no small irony that the men in Moonstone with whom she identifies live
somewhat unhappy lives and dream of something more: her suitor, Ray who sees
that Thea is bound for great things which he cannot begin to understand and
who's death provides the opportunity for her to leave and begin her studies
in earnest; her piano teacher, Professor Wunsch, the once "almost famous"
musician who drowns his tortured failings in the bottle; and most of all Dr.
Archie, who, hopelessly trapped in a loveless marriage with a "sour" wife
see's Thea as the possible vicarious escape in which dreams can be achieved.
There is also Mexican Johnny who teaches her the folk songs from his
homeland, which neighbors and even her own family find some disgrace in.
Though the film does not delve into race relations - in more than one scene
we are shown that those involved in the arts have the opportunity (if not
always the inclination) to rise above racism and sexism.
Though Thea faces some hardships they are given that nice Masterpiece Theatr
e glow which doesn't necessarily diminish their importance, but rather
provides an opportunity to show growth and strength of character.
Director Karen Arthur had a few good tricks up her sleeve - our first image
of Thea is in work clothes on a hill, dusty, unkempt - an image she will see
herself in at the start of her new life when she visits the Art Institute of
Chicago and out of all the treasures there is drawn to Jules Breton's
painting "The Song of the Lark." I don't know if it's my bad eyes or if a
certain technique was being used, but at key moments - the turn of a head, a
look out the window, a glance towards the audience - the film speed seemed
to alter, slowing down almost to the quality of a nickelodeon picture, which
given the time period of the story was another perfect touch.
Lori Stinson provides the voice of the character and we hear the raw beauty
of it in some old Swedish hymns, some Mexican folk songs as it blossoms into
youthful maturity in Che faro senza Euridice, Let the Bright Seraphim, a
Queen of the Night aria, among other things. Marilyn Horne is credited as
the vocal coach.
While I found all of the actors uniformly top quality, the performance that
moved me the most was Arliss Howard as Dr. Archie. As played by Howard,
here is a man who could easily be tortured by his life's circumstances, but
remains a gentleman, through strength of purpose is able to maintain both
his dignity perspective. Howard's range of confined respectable emotions
vasilate between what must remain a secret tortured love for Thea, a
parental tenderness, and the true love and respect of a friend. At her
debut in Chicago, it is Dr. Archie that leads the ovation - the years of joy
and pain now register in his face through pride. It is not just Thea's
debut, it is, in a way, his triumph. The film's penultimate scene is his as
bidding Thea farewell, most likely forever, he fights back his tears and
with voice choked tells her "You were three, the first time I saw that
little blonde head of yours ... I couldn't imagine all the wonder, all the
wonders it contained. There is so little that is truly fine in this world
... Life would have been a pretty bleak stretch for me, if you were left
Bravo to Masterpiece Theatre on this fine innaugaral effort of its American
A Masterpiece of American literature
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After the horrid job Hollywood did on her novel A LOST LADY, Willa Cather refused to allow her works to be converted to dramatic form--and she put it in her will. But that was before Masterpiece Theater raised the stakes for the transformation of literary classics to film. Now that a few of Cather's works are no longer in copyright, some have been filmed with mixed results. The Masterpiece Theater film, THE SONG OF THE LARK, is the best of the lot, a fine presentation of the story of a young girl who finds her voice when she connects the two things--the western lands and the music--that she loves. This production has the good sense to end the story at its climax, leaving the weaker ending (which Cather herself acknowledged) to the reader's imagination."
Not to be missed
bookloversfriend | United States | 10/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"4 and 1/2 stars.
This is a moving story of a number of people, especially a young woman who finds that her gift is singing. Each of these main characters experience real heartache and Thea seems to feel for every one of them. The acting is superb for all these characters. The music is well chosen and plentiful. The background music fits in well with the classical selections. The music is light classical and not that different from orchestral movie music.
My one complaint is with the sleezy character. He was played well. Tony Goldwyn is a natural for such characters. And I can believe that a naive country girl would fall for such a slick big town operator. And it is in character and does her credit that when she finds out what he is, she immediately breaks it off. The thorn in my side is that at the end, she says to him that there will never be another, even leaving open the possibility that she might get back together with him if he were ever free to marry. This I found hard to believe and even more hard to take.
I was disappointed that she didn't eventually link up with the Doctor, who was by far the best partner for her. But this would have been less realistic than the movie as a whole.
I have to take issue with one reviewer about the mimed singing. Even filmed operas do not have the singers singing. They dub it in afterward. The few live performances filmed show the distortions that their faces have to go through to produce all that volume, and it interferes with the drama.
Those who like this movie will like "Interrupted Melody (1955)". This is a true story of an Australian country girl who becomes a world famous opera singer, marries a doctor, and...well, see the movie. You'll be glad you did.
Bottom line: If you like a good drama about real people, see this movie."
--------Good Story with Beautiful Music and Singing---------
Judith Miller | Bluemont, VA USA | 05/10/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This was a recommendation from a friend and I have to say it was most enjoyable!
Thea Kronborg , a lovely and talented young Swedish American woman grows up as a gifted pianist. Her life revolves around her interest in music and she knows she has to find a way to obtain lessons and leave her rural home in Colorado. Her life is music and she also has a lovely singing voice. Her parents help her to take piano lessons and she herself earns money by teaching piano and also by singing at funerals. She has a boyfriend, and her life seems full of hope for the future; however, she still doesn't see a way to get the formal advanced training that she needs.
When a tragedy happens in her life, she is bereft, but out of sadness, something good happens and she is able to leave home and take lessons with two wonderful music teachers. Doors open for her in ways that she could never imagine, but in her personal life, she had some tough lessons to learn.
Alison Elliott plays Thea and an outstanding performance is given by Arliss Howard who plays Dr. Archie, a family doctor who serves as Thea's mentor. This Masterpiece Theater production is based on a story by Willa Cather.