Synopsis: After being denied a promotion at the university where she teaches, Doctor Lily Penleric, a brilliant musicologist, impulsively visits her sister, who runs a struggling rural school in Appalachia. There she stumbles upon the discovery of her life - a treasure trove of ancient Scots-Irish ballads, songs that have been handed down from generation to generation, preserved intact by the seclusion of the mountains. With the goal of securing her promotion, Lily ventures into the most isolated areas of the mountains to collect the songs and finds herself increasingly enchanted - not only by the rugged purity of the music, but also by the raw courage and endurance of the local people as they carve out meaningful lives against the harshest conditions. It is not, however, until she meets Tom - a handsome, hardened war veteran and talented musician - that she's forced to examine her motivations. Is the "Songcatcher," as Tom insists, no better than the men who exploit the people and extort their l
Genre: Drama, Music
Director(s): Maggie Greenwald
Production: Lions Gate
  5 wins & 5 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
109 min

(woman singing)

(music) All in the merry month of May (music)

(music) When green leaves

were a-springing (music)

(music) This young man

on his deathbed lay (music)

(music) For the love of Barbara Allen (music)

(music) He sent his man

unto her then (music)

(music) To the town

where she was dwelling (music)

(music) "You must come

to my master, dear (music)

(music) If your name

be Barbara Allen" (music)

(music) So slowly, slowly

she got up (music)

(music) And slowly

she came to him (music)

(music) And all she said

when she came there (music)

(music) "Young man,

I think you're dying" (music)

(music) He turned his face

unto the wall (music)

(music) And death came

creeping to him (music)

(music) Adieu, adieu,

and adieu to all (music)

(music) And adieu

to Barbara Allen (music)

(music) When he was dead

and laid in his grave (music)

(music) Then death came

creeping to her (music)

(music) O mother, mother,

make my bed (music)

(music) For his death

hath quite undone me (music)

(music) And so this maid

she then did die (music)

(music) And desired

to be buried by him (music)

(music) And repented she

before she died (music)

(music) That e'er she did

deny him. (music)


there you have a fine example

of an old English ballad,

a folk song, defined

as that which is created

by the common people,

the unskilled.

The melodies

are quaint and primitive,

but you must learn

to appreciate

not only

the sociological value,

but the simple purity

of emotion in the song.



Good afternoon,

Dean Pembroke.

I wanted to catch you today,

Dr. Penleric.

I wanted to tell you

that the appointment committee

has reviewed your application

for full professor.

And we've concluded


that we can not

offer you the position.

However, we hope

you will continue on

as an associate professor

at your current salary level,

of course.

Dr. Penleric:
Why, may I ask,

am I being passed over again?

It is not customary

to be asked

to defend our position,

Dr. Penleric.

It appears we have

an opportunity

to offer the position to

the eminent English musicologist

and ballad collector,

Cyrus Whittle,

who as you know, has almost

single-handedly created

a revival

of the English folk song.

Oh, Dean Pembroke.

Excuse me.

What is it, Professor Aldrich?

Nothing, sir, I just stopped by

for a few words with Dr. Penleric.

Well, I was just leaving.

Good day, Dr. Penleric.

(door closes)

I argued for you, Lily,

as emphatically as I dared.

I have waited longer

and published more

than anyone else

in this department.


I was the only man for you.

Dr. Penleric:

Dean Pembroke said

the vote was unanimous.

I was afraid someone

would suspect something.

Dr. Whittle is

a brilliant man.

Of course he is,

that's not the point!


I've arranged

the family's whole summer

so I can come into town

to see you every week.

I won't be here, Wallace.

Where are you going?

As far away as possible.

Please don't go away.

I know how disappointed

you must be, my darling, but...

Lily, wait.

Why don't I meet you

at your apartment?

My wife won't be home

until quite late.

Are you mad, Lily?

What if someone walked in?

You coward!

Backing my appointment

was the only thing

I ever asked you for.


(rooster crowing)

You Miss Elna's sister?

Yes, yes, yes, I am.

I'm here to take you

to Clover.

I'm Fate Honeycutt.

What's your name?

Oh, hello,

I'm Dr. Lily Penleric.

A doctor, huh?

That's just fine.

We could sure use

another healer.

Oh, I'm not a medical doctor.

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Maggie Greenwald

Maggie Greenwald (born June 23, 1955 in Queens, New York) is an American filmmaker.Most recognized as an independent writer and director, Greenwald’s most notable films include Sophie and the Rising Sun (2016), starring an ensemble cast that included Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson, Lorraine Toussaint and Diane Ladd, Songcatcher (2000) starring Aidan Quinn and Janet McTeer and introducing Emmy Rossum, and The Ballad of Little Jo (1993), starring Suzy Amis and Ian McKellan. She also directed an adaptation of Jim Thompson's The Kill-Off featuring an ensemble cast that included Cathy Haase and the film debut of Jorja Fox. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Songcatcher" STANDS4 LLC, 2020. Web. 28 Nov. 2020. <>.

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