Glenn Gould remains an enigmatic, fascinating figure more than two decades after his death. This new film, directed by Gould's friend Bruno Monsaingeon, who has already written four books and made a 23-part TV series about... more » him, is something very special. Taken from Gould's own words, the pianist himself seems to act as narrator in a retrospective on his life and art. A great deal of archival footage of both interviews and performances exemplify the pianist's genius and eccentricities. There are modern-day interviews as well. One with an Italian woman who comes to hang out with a sculpture of Gould in front of the CBC building in Toronto lets us in on the emotional effect he had on people, and many others discuss how he changed their perceptions of music. Gould himself is remarkably insightful in interviews. He seems to have been a man incapable of being boring or thoughtless. And, of course, the music speaks for itself. You'll hear some of the most stunning playing. Even those of us who already know and appreciate Gould will find new things here. This film is an eye- and ear-opening delight. --Robert Levine« less
Yet Another Brilliant Musical Retrospective from Bruno Monsa
J Scott Morrison | Middlebury VT, USA | 09/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This DVD is self-recommending if only because it is by our leading music documentarian, Bruno Monsaingeon, and is about one of music's legendary figures, Glenn Gould. Add to that the fact that Monsaingeon and Gould were friends for thirty years and that Monsaingeon had already made a number of previous documentaries about Gould, and you have a recipe for a great film. Monsaingeon is a working musician (a violinist) as well and his ability to understand the musical aspects of Gould's life is beyond question. (There is even a clip of Monsaingeon playing first violin in a snippet of Gould's Opus 1, his String Quartet.) Gould, of course, was himself a documentarian and he certainly left behind miles of film in which he plays, discourses about music and all manner of other things. There are even home movies of Gould as a young teen playing on the family piano.
One charming conceit of the film is that Monsaingeon found five 'ordinary people' whose lives had been touched in special ways by Gould's playing and he filmed them in various activities connected with that. For instance, there is a former rock musician who goes pretty far to commemorate her emotional connection with Gould -- I won't spoil the surprise by telling you what it was she did. There is a Russian woman who develops a missionary fervor about exposing others to Gould's music. There is an Italian woman who makes a pilgrimage to Toronto and has a dialog with the startlingly lifelike statue of Gould that sits outside the Gould studio there.
One might wonder what more could be said about Gould after all the previous books and films about him. It is a tribute to Monsaingeon's art that he found a way to approach his subject in a new and fascinating manner. He constructs the documentary as if it were being narrated by Gould himself. Gould's fabled Lincoln Continental becomes a character in the proceedings, traveling through ravishingly photographed northern Canadian forests as we hear Gould discourse in a voice-over on various things. There are numerous video and audio clips, some never seen before, that give us a taste of both his playing and his thinking. We hear and see him play music not generally associated with him -- especially by those who think of Gould as being a Bach specialist -- music by Hindemith, Chopin, Weber, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and others, even Gould's quirky Mozart.
Gould's personal eccentricities are not emphasized but are not avoided either. One does, however, come away, yet again, reminded of George Szell's famous remark about him, 'That nut is a genius!'. Gould was an utterly unique and important figure and it is no wonder that almost twenty-five years after his tragic death at 50, in 1982, his life is still being explored and celebrated.
So, even if you've seen other films about Gould, including those by Monsaingeon, you will be rewarded by watching this film.
Not All Is Gould That Glitters
J. F. Laurson | Washington, DC United States | 06/05/2008
(1 out of 5 stars)
"Mr. Morrisson is a terrific reviewer - and I hate to disagree with him so strongly... but I want to put forward to consideration at least the possibility that this Monsaigneon film about Glenn Gould's Ghost (more or less) is an awful piece of shlock and surely (hopefully) Monsaigneon's worst effort. (I don't much like his Boulanger one either, but that's a.) an early work and b.) not nearly as tacky as this hagiography here.)
I won't say that this film *is* terrible, but I think it will be terrible to many viewers who approach this with high hopes of learning more about GG, the person (or musician, for that matter). Anyone who has read and enjoyed Kevin Bazzana's "A Wondrous Strange", for example, might approach this one with caution. Why? Well, because it's a hooky and kookey collection of reminiscenses about Gould by people who are in love with the idea of Gould. A Russian lady had her rheumaticism cured by listening to Gould on the radio, an Italian lady talks to (and even kisses? I don't remember) his spirit and statue in Toronto... it's the kind of mystisizing of Gould that will seem (legitimately) creepy to a lot of people. I could barely watch the whole thing. 'Tis tacky and really has nothing to do with Gould but rather the wackiness that he inspired in others - others who didn't even know him.
For what it is worth: I have talked to a friend of Glenn Gould's who has written prolifically about him (and edited his letters), who similarly shuddered in disgust about this film.
With so much visual material that is left of Gould himself (CBC material, his radio shows et al.), this can't be considered as seriously contributing to our understanding of Gould. I'd much rather recommend the "Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould" semi-filmography.
To those who feel inclined to agree with the other, very positive reviews: I wish not to be so ungraceful as to take a bone from a dog... but caveat emptor!"
Not from the Biography Channel...
CD318 | NEW JERSEY | 09/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I pre-ordered this as soon as I was able, being a Huge fan of Mr. Gould, and not disappointed in the least. Those whose roots with Gould are not quite that deep yet, I would suggest some of the other DVD titles listed here on Amazon first. This isn't your typical biography produced for the masses, but more focused on Gould's craft & thoughts. There are many unscripted scenes that had been previously been introduced to the editor, where you witness Mr.Gould seeking perfection in the recording studio. I could go on & on, but would like to thank Bruno Monsaingeon for producing another treasure about Glen Gould. A must have!"
More than Gouldiana
J. Anderson | Monterey, CA USA | 11/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Glenn Gould has become a cottage industry, I guess. What does it matter, when films this fine come along. Bruno Monsaigneon strikes gold with a fresh look at a music giant. All Monsaigneon's films are gems. (his film of Menuhin's return to Russia - the patience and vision sticks with me. It should be made available again.) Monsaigneon arranges his films like subtle puzzles, like paintings. Hereafter is exquisite in that way. Most of the footage used is new to me, and that's saying something since video Gouldiana is abundant, most of it repetitive in varying degrees. Hereafter's colors and sounds are modern and true, even kindly, in their way, as Gould was in his. Monsaigneon divulges a keen cinematic palette so authoritatively it seems nonchalant. Rather much like Gould's playing. His honest affection for Gould is evident. It is, moreover, adoration of Gould's art that sings and makes this film what it is. Gould's playing throughout is stupendous, baronial, overwhelming. I've never seen footage like it! A few high wires, and always that truth-telling sound that was Gould's alone, that wins souls. Absolute recommendation to both acolyte and novice. Thanks Monsaigneon for your painstaking work. And for always looking after Glenn Gould. This piece is a winner - don't hesitate."
A Revealing Perspective on a Musical Genius
Angel Valchinov | Boston, MA | 11/20/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a DVD which captures the spirit of Glenn Gould. He was a musician who transcended the accepted, the mechanical, the artificial. He was one with the composer. Mr. Monsaingeon successfully conveys these ideas through his film. Among the treasures of this work are some excerpts where Gould conducts elephants in a zoo, or when private recordings of his practice sessions are revealed (exposing his substantial voice accompaniment to his piano playing).