Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould


Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould film. Michèle Hozer and Peter Raymont direct this film depicting Glenn Gould's life. Released  2011, disc has 5.1 dts-HD Master Audio sound. Grade: B+

This is the second HDVD documentary produced about the life and art of Glenn Gould. The other, Glenn Gould: Hereafter, has already been reviewed and recommended on this site.

For the Glenn Gould aficionado, both titles are probably already must-owns. But for the less fanatical of us, the idea of purchasing two documentaries about the same subject might be overkill. On the surface the two titles are similar: both use SD footage of interviews and performances by Gould plus new interviews and discussion with HD video. There is quite a bit of overlap of historical footage.

But the two films diverge in the scope and tone of the modern-day material. Hereafter is primarily concerned with the legacy of Gould and his still considerable influence (the interviews in Hereafter are not with anyone who knew Gould personally, but rather with fans who fell in love with Gould's playing after his death). Hereafter also deals with Gould's vision about musical performances in the future in which recordings, which could be reused in many ways, might well become more important than live performances, which could only be seen by the elite few.

Genius Within takes a more direct approach. The interviews are all of friends, colleagues, or former lovers of Gould, who attempt to portray the kind of man Gould was. Where Hereafter is reverential to the utmost degree, Genius Within attempts to show Gould in a more neutral, well rounded light. We learn of an extremely gifted and talented man aware of the power of his fame. And we also learn of his idiosyncrasies and flaws. 

Genius Within also does a better job than Hereafter in explaining why Gould became such a phenomenon. We didn't know much about Gould before watching the these two films. Genius Within gave us a clearer understanding than Hereafter of Gould's unique way of playing classic works.

Here's an official trailer: