Stephanie Bennett directed this beautiful portrait of the incredible poet and singer, Joni Mitchell, a “true poet,” the voice of an era. Using more than just her performances, the director has woven a true tale that reveals a human life as well as a tremendous talent. With interviews from Ms. Mitchell throughout her life, as well as interviews of those she loved, a tender glimpse of the life that was expressed in her amazing music is captured. Her vulnerability, her determination, her crystal-clear voice all permeate this wonderful film, written by Susan Lacy.
Joni MItchell, Canada’s Gift to the World
Born on the Canadian prairie, stricken with polio, Joni Mitchell had a beautiful smile that captured the hearts of the world. By the time she was only a young woman, her life had been touched by tragedy and betrayal, yet she continued on her own path, solo. She was the essence of an existential reality that the words of her music as well as the tone of her voice put into focus for the world. “Chords are depictions of emotions,” she said. Mitchell never set out to be a pop artist but nonetheless became the poet of her era. She called her voice a “universal” voice and it proved to be one that transcended time, age, and nation.
As a young performer, she fell in love with Graham Nash. Nash is seen in the film, and old videos of the duo as a young couple are also seen. Nash speaks so respectfully about the beautiful young Mitchell that he seems to still regret losing her. While her performances are at the center of this film, the periphery gives the documentary a full-bodied feel, and the Nash interview is just one of many that lead the viewer to a fuller appreciation of this amazing talent. Interviews are seen with Malka Marom, Erica Anderson, Stephen Holden and Bill Flanagan. As well as critics and media personnel, the film includes manager Elliot Robert, and David Crosby, who produced Mitchell’s first recording. Archival clips of Woodstock and other period clips give an historical context to the film.
Woman of Heart and Mind Reveals a Timeless Legacy of Music and Art
Joni Mitchell was never one-dimensional. She has continued to develop her skills as an artist as well as a musician. By the 1980s she was acknowledged as a force in jazz, and was still winning awards in the 1990s. There is hardly a genre in which she has not excelled. But the magnetic pull of music and the road took its toll and kept her free of the ties and rewards from an enduring relationship, whether with lovers or with children. Somehow, though, this film ends on the upbeat, looking at a woman who eschewed hypocrisy and materialism and who forged the life she was meant to have. Despite all the odds, Joni Mitchell became a successful human being as well as an artist, and left a tremendous legacy behind her. This film should not be overlooked by anyone who appreciates her music or wants a fresh view of the era of her stardom. A really good film.