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.