Release Date: 10/23/2001 Original Release: 2001 Format: DVD Length: 109 minutes Rating:PG-13 (MPAA) Rating Reason: sexual content and an intense scene of childbirth UPC: 031398754329 Studio: Trimark Home Video
1907. Musicologist Dr Lily Penleric (Janet McTeer) is displeased to find she has been passed over for a promotion at her East Coast University. She sets off for the southern Appalachians where her sister Elna (Jane Adams) runs a school with her friend Harriet (E. Katherine Kerr). Lily is excited to discover that the mountain women sing pure versions of old British folk songs. She starts to collect the songs--at first writing them down; then recording them on very cumbersome equipment.
Scriptwriter/director Maggie Greenwald has loosely based her movie on the songcatchers who uncovered the Appalachian-British folk song connection in the late 1910s. Greenwald and the regal Janet McTeer make Lily Penleric an aloof woman who at first sees the songs as specimens to be collected scientifically. Then gradually, Lily is drawn into the drama of the women's mountain lives--their joy and sadness, their hard fought existence, their men and their infidelities, their tolerance and intolerance. And, as she is drawn in, Lily begins to fall in love with the performers, particularly the feisty matriarch Viney Butler (Pat Carroll), and the orphan Deladis Slocumb (Emmy Rossum, a 13-year-old with an astonishing voice who makes a notable film debut).