Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould – Director’s Cut (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

March 13, 2011 by  

“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” is a magnificent, well-researched drama on the classical music icon Glenn Gould.  If you love his music, you will no doubt love this documentary!

Images courtesy of © 2011 White Pine Pictures, Inc. Kino Lorber Inc. All Rights Reserved.

DVD TITLE: Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould – Director’s Cut


DURATION: 113 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Color, English, 16:9, Presented in 5.1 Surround Sound

COMPANY: Kino Lorber/Lorber Films

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2011

Directed by Michele Hozer, Peter Raymont

Produced by Michele Hozer, Peter Raymont

Supervising Producer: Kelly Jenkins

Cinematography by Walter Corbett

Edited by Michele Hozer


Glenn Gould

An enigmatic musical poet – and the most documented classical musician of the last century – world-renowned pianist Glenn Gould continues to captivate international audiences twenty-six years after his untimely death. Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould humanizes the legend, weaving together an unprecedented array of unseen footage, private home recordings and diaries, as well as compelling interviews with Gould’s most intimate friends and lovers – all exploring the incongruities between Gould’s private reality and his wider image.

Glenn Gould is a genius.  Glenn Gould is brilliant.  Glenn Gould is a musical legend.

These are the many positive words to describe the Canadian pianist who is one of the most well-known and most celebrated classical pianist of the 20th century.   Known for his magnificent technical proficiency to articulate the polyphonic texture of Johann Sebastian Bach’s music, he was also known for his unorthodox musical interpretations and mannerisms at the keyboard.

Young, cool and definitely not your average classical pianist at the time, Glenn Gould would accomplish a lot in his young career but in April 10, 1964, at the age of 31-years-old, Gould would give his last public performance.

While many people felt Glenn Gould’s life as a mystery, director Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont would uncover the true Glenn Gould through their documentary titled “Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” in which many would learn about Gould’s upbringing, his personal life, his love life, working with Leonard Bernstein and see never-before-seen concert footage, photographs, private home recordings and diary entries.

Through this documentary, viewers can get to learn who Glenn Gould is through those closes to him including Cornelia Foss, Roxolana Roslak, Petula Clark and Vladmir Ashkenazy.


“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” is presented in 16:9 and features plenty of modern interview footage and many various video archived clips from concerts, promotionals, television and more.  So, picture quality is going to vary for this documentary but for the most part, the video is in good shape and was well-research and presented.

Audio is in English and is presented in 5.1 surround sound.  You get a lot of Glenn Gould’s music throughout this documentary and that is a big positive.  The documentary is front/center channel driven but for a documentary, the audio is very good.

It’s important to note that if you want better picture and audio quality, ““Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” is available on Blu-ray.


“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould”comes with the following special features:

  • Deleted Scenes and Extra Interviews: Cornelia Foss on Glenn’s Music – (:46) The mannerisms of Glenn when he practiced his music.
  • Deleted Scenes and Extra Interviews: Lorne Tulk & the Chair– (2:39) The argument that Lorne Tulk and Glenn Gould had which involved Glenn’s chair that he gave to Lorne.
  • Deleted Scenes and Extra Interviews: Cornelia Foss on Glenn’s Image – (3:53) How Glenn’s is being remembered today and how Cornelia Foss feels about it.
  • Deleted Scenes and Extra Interviews: Ray Roberts & Mementos of Glenn – (3:22) Ray shows mementos of Glenn, from his suit jackets and photos.
  • Deleted Scenes and Extra Interviews: Cornelia Foss on Glenn’s Philosophy – (3:03) Cornelia talks about how Glenn would transcend when he was playing the piano.
  • Deleted Scenes and Extra Interviews: Lorne Tulk & The Toolbox – (1:18) Lorne would talk about the toolbox how Glenn felt about it.
  • Deleted Scenes and Extra Interviews: Kevin Bazzana & Glenn’s Notes – (2:27) Kevin Bazzana’s interest in Glenn’s notes.
  • Trailers – Trailers for upcoming KINO Lorber releases.

Glenn Gould was no doubt a fascinating musician.

He was provocative and played the music the way he wanted to and he was also flamboyant.   Magnified in the public eye with his coat, jacket and gloves (yes, he wore them no matter how hot and cold the weather was), there is no doubt that Glenn Gould was an icon but also an enigma in American pop culture.   A person that you can’t put your finger on but perhaps that was the quality that made him quite special.

“Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” is a documentary that showcases the life and musical career of Glenn Gould and although for decades, he has remained a unique musician for the public, this documentary directed by Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont does its best do know more about this individual from those who had close relationships with him.

For music, we see how Gould’s efficacy once his fingers touched the keys and we learn from musicians of how Gould was a fantastic musician and how other musicians would play Bach, Gould would do something differently.  Some may call it experimental, others may call his piano playing as explorative and amazing.  This was a man, who when he was a child at the age of 3 was playing the piano and by the age of 22, he was signed by Columbia Records after he made his debut in New York.  It’s how he played Bach that took the music world by storm and many musicians noticed, there was no one playing Bach like Gould had done and he continued to surprise people with his style of music playing.

We learn how Gould was not shy when it came to interviews and although he is portrayed for his flamboyancy, we get to learn about what made him so brilliant.  How unique his piano playing was, how he wasn’t bothered by those who were critical, we learn about what happened when Leonard Bernstein gave a disclaimer before Gould’s performance informing the audience that he was assuming no responsibility for what they were about to hear and thus creating a media storm of who’s in charge…the conductor or the soloist?  But we also get to learn what happened and why Gould would quit performing live and what transpired with his life afterward.

The documentary would showcase how Gould, a hypochondriac, was given medication and possibly medication that had an adverse reaction in his mental condition and became a determent in his health in which the musician died at the young age of 50.

It’s important to note that the film is not to show any major criticism towards Gould, in fact, if there was any hint of criticism, it was by Cornelia Foss, the wife of composer and conductor Lukas Foss and because she and her husband were divorcing, she and Gould would have a relationship.  While a private man who some media, at the time, tried to make him out as a homosexual, Gould was heterosexual and had a loving relationship with Foss and even was good with their children (who are also interviewed in the documentary).

But the criticism was not more about the man and his music but it was more about his serious paranoia in which she feared for her children’s welfare and which led to her return to her ex-husband.  This paranoia was possibly related to the amount of medication he has been taking all his life and his hypochondria enhanced his attraction towards using prescription medication.  There was speculation that Gould had Asperger’s syndrome but it was not discussed in this documentary.

While his relationship with his ex-lover Cornelia Foss is focused on during the final half of the documentary, we also get to see his relationships with other women as well.  But I have to admit the relationship with Foss and how it was explored, especially with Foss giving her side of the relationship was quite fascinating, especially knowing that Gould looked at her husband as one of his idol’s.

While many would feel that “Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould” may demystify the man that was made so unique because he was so enigmatic, need not worry.  The film never touches upon anything polemic, including the Leonard Bernstein situation, Gould never had a bad thing to say about it but continued his adoration towards Bernstein.

The film is well-researched and a good amount of never-before-seen video and pictures are found in this drama and for the most part, I felt that Michele Hozer and Peter Raymont did a good job with his documentary.  It’s if one is expecting some “dirt” on the musician’s career, you’re not going to get it.  It’s a straightforward story that focuses on his life, balances with his music presentation but doesn’t delve so deep about why he plays music that way.  If anything, the documentary pays its respect to Glenn Gould’s musical legacy.

Overall, “Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould – Director’s Cut” is a fantastic documentary that Glenn Gould fans can truly enjoy and respect.  Highly recommended!

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