Judy Collins, Jill Godmilow

Int.: Antonia Brico, Judy Collins. Prod.: Judy Collins per Rocky Mountain Films. DCP. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The subject of this film reportage is Antonia Brico, the conductor. Most of the footage shows her reminiscing about her life and her career; other footage is from 1930s newsreels and photograph albums in which we see Antonia Brico conducting some of the greatest orchestras of her day, or with friends. We also see her at rehearsals.
A biographical film needs one of two things in order to be of interest or of value: either it’s made by a superior filmmaker (artist), or it’s about a superior personality. Antonia Brico happened to be a great personality and a great artist. The filmmakers treated her with respect and with competent professional craft.
Either l never saw this in a film before, or perhaps I didn’t react to it the same way – but I have never seen in a film (or in life) a face in which music reflects itself so perfectly and so totally as in the face of Antonia Brico when she conducts. We see her just before she steps on the podium, we see her as a regular person, among other regular persons. One second later she is there, before the orchestra, and she is transformed. The demon of music, the muses of music take over her body and her soul. And to see this is one of the miracles of art.
But it’s not the music coming from the orchestra that is reflected in her face, no: it’s her musical soul that is coming out from the very center of her being; through her face and through her body and through her hands it extends out and takes over the orchestra, and it guides it, it moves it, it caresses it, it plays it – it produces the art of music.
I have never seen Antonia Brico conduct but it’s  enough for me to see her in this film to know that she is one of the beloved of the Muse of Music and a blessing to humanity – a blessing which this humanity has practically buried, neglected by not using Antonia Brico and condemning her to live as a conductor without an orchestra.

Jonas Mekas, “The Village Voice”, 12 September 1975

Copy From

Courtesy of Jill Godmilow
Restored by Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation