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Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert)

4.5 out of 5 stars 125 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A documentary about the music from the film 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Features blueglass and folk music performances from many of the same individuals who recorded for the film soundtrack.

Additional Features

A minor quibble with the DVD is the lack of instant song access. The film is in anamorphic widescreen format, with Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 surround sound.

Special Features

  • Synopsis
  • Filmmaker biographies
  • List of songs and musicians

Product Details

  • Actors: Ralph Stanley, Emmylou Harris, Evelyn Cox, Sidney Cox, Suzanne Cox
  • Directors: Chris Hegedus, D.A. Pennebaker, Nick Doob
  • Producers: Bob Neuwirth, Ethan Coen, Frazer Pennebaker, Joel Coen, Rebecca Ferris
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Anamorphic, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: French, Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    G
    General Audience
  • Studio: Lions Gate
  • DVD Release Date: October 23, 2001
  • Run Time: 98 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005NVHA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,970 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Down from the Mountain (The "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" Concert)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thelma C. Johnson on July 17, 2001
Verified Purchase
This movie, part stage show and part local color with a good bit of nostalgia thrown in, is breathtaking, riveting, spellbinding, transcendent. It begins with a night tour of Nashville's exciting places; from the limo window we see Tootsie's, the Ryman Auditorium, Second Avenue, Lower Broadway. We share our ride with Ralph Stanley, who has "come down from the mountain." We spend time backstage at the Ryman while the performers are waiting their turns, and eavesdrop on John Hartford as he spins a tale about wanting to be a librarian. We listen to a couple of blues players talk about their work and discover that Emmylou Harris is a baseball fan. The show itself is country at its best. Rock and roll doesn't show its face; there are no gyrations or big hats or shrill voices. Just country, with memories of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and a plethora of old time musicians who sang of hard times and death and endurance. We will always remember Emmylou Harris's sweet, true voice, Allison Krause's melodic outpouring, and Gillian Welch's beautiful harmony. We'll remember the Peasall sisters and the Fairfield Four and Ralph Stanley; but most of all, we'll remember the magic moment when John Hartford began to sing "Big Rock Candy Mountain." It was one of his last performances before he succumbed to cancer, but his voice was steady and strong, and his hands sure on the violin. This was old time music as it should be, and even the newer songs sounded old. It reminds us of how far modern country music has strayed from its roots, and how easy and pleasant it is to go back to them again.
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Format: VHS Tape
I wasn't sure that a documentary about bluegrass music was going to be something that a) I would enjoy, b) something I would find compelling or c) something that would turn me onto an area of music and performances enough to make me rethink my former country snobbishness. "Down from the Mountain" made me a convert on all the above bases and more. This documentary-style film about the music and artists who comprise the soundtrack for "Oh, Brother, Where art Thou?" include the immense talents of Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch. These women have ways of lovingly massaging a ballad until it truly has a life of it's own. The soulful words and melodies of family artists like the Whites, and the Cox family are wonderfully done, as are the younger performers who get to ramp up the tempo for their rendition of "Highways and the Hedges". Then there's the wonderfully dry-witted John Hartford, who takes a few moments aside from his emcee responsibilities to give a toe-tapping rendition of "Big Rock Candy Mountain". The film takes you for a backstage pass (OK, is Emmylou Harris THAT big of a baseball fan!) AND a front row performance in the acoustically amazing Ryman Theatre. Through a mix of gospel, bluegrass, blues and country, the viewer gets a real treat of hearing and seeing what was the musical underpinning for the Coen brother's blockbuster film. You might very well meet some new musical artists in this video. I did. They seem to bear a different countenance from other contemporary artists, demonstrating a solid reliance on song style, harmonies, acoustics, and ultimately bringing "everything out but the kitchen sink" in their delivery, and that was it for me. The words are familiar and the songbirds beckon, come smile, cry, clap your hands, or sing, "Hallelujah!", mountain life is pretty good and your journey's just beginning.
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Format: DVD
Down from the Mountain opens with the inimitable, keening tenor of Ralph Stanley, over a photomontage that takes us, literally, down from the mountain with the Stanley Brothers. The filmmakers and their sound recorders have captured the grace, beauty, and power of the music T-Bone Burnett assembled for the Coen Brothers picture. Although this is primarily a concert film, the performers offer some insights into the music, including Dr. Stanley's by now well-known comments on the roots of "bluegrass" and his general preference for other terminology to describe just what it is he sees himself as performing up there on the stage.
It's also interesting to hear the great "high tenor" observe that this is music one is born into--the solitariness of life in the deep backwoods, that Stanley credits for his "lonesome" sound--rather than a thing easily acquired by outsiders. The movie then jumps to a variety of outsiders, who discovered "bluegrass" in collegetown record bins, and their less appealing ruminations on the music. Here we have Gillian Welch, for example, who has a lovely voice and writes pretty songs, revealing herself as precisely the kind of artist with whom Stanley, elsewhere (in a New Yorker profile, of all things), has said he'd rather not play. (And he does look distinctly uncomfortable in their midst.) The filmmakers capture Welch--inadvertently, I think--in what struck me an entirely too condescending a disposition. As a result, her time on screen seems much too long, particularly when there are Allison Krausses and Emmy Lou Harrises in the house.
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