Click here for TWM’s lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.
These vignettes provide impressions of Canada’s most renowned classical musician of the 20th century. Glenn Gould (1932 – 1982) was a performer, recording artist, broadcaster, radio and television producer, and an extremely interesting man.
Some critics call this movie “One of the best biopics of all time … [It] took its structure from Gould’s most famous performance, Bach’s ‘Goldberg’ Variations. The vignettes, some verbatim reenactments, some whole cloth, added up to a rich vivid film portrait that did justice to its subject by leaving his mysteries intact.” “New Rules for ‘based on a true story'”, by Ann Hornady (Washington Post) Los Angeles Times, Friday, December 26, 2007, pp. E26 & 27. (This picture is cited to support Ms. Hornady’s proposition that: “The messy, contradictory, adamantly nonlinear truth of a life is much better served by a film that doesn’t shoehorn its subject into a neat, three-act structure.” Ibid.)
1993 Genie Awards (Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television): Best Picture, Best Direction (Girard), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing; 1994 Sao Paulo International Film Festival: International Jury Award.
This film will introduce children to Glenn Gould, his beautiful music, and his eccentricities. Children interested in classical music, may want to buy some Glenn Gould CDs after seeing this film.
NONE. This is a beautiful and sophisticated film raising substantial issues about the relationship of artists to the world and to their audiences. It will be appreciated most by children who are themselves performers or who already have a strong interest in classical music.
This film will probably interest children who are involved with classical music. Ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question.
At the age of 32, at the height of his career as a concert pianist, Glenn Gould stopped performing. Unable to bear what he considered to be the imperfections of performance, he retired to the recording studio.
Gould would dress in ways that drew attention to himself but insulated him from the weather and from people. He wanted to be noticed and heard, but he did not want to be touched.
1. Click here for Standard Questions Suitable for Any Documentary Film.
2. What is an artist’s responsibility to the public?
3. How can an artist be called a social dictator? Do you agree that artists are social dictators? What if the audience leaves or simply fails to come?
4. Why would an artist want anonymity?
5. Yehudi Menuhin observed that Glenn Gould sought to create his own life and to live it to the exclusion of the rest of the world. Do you think that this is an admirable way to live? Tell us the reason for your answer.
6. Gould required hours alone to heal from contact with others. Do you find a need for solitude?
7. Why did Gould soak his arms in hot water before a performance?
See Quick Discussion Question.
Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. The Pillar of Character which relates to this film is set out below.
(Do what you are supposed to do; Persevere: keep on trying!; Always do your best; Use self-control; Be self-disciplined; Think before you act — consider the consequences; Be accountable for your choices)
This Learning Guide was last updated on December 18, 2009.