Joni Mitchell-Woman of Heart and Mind: A Life Story (2003)

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Released 28-Oct-2003

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Music Main Menu Animation
Bonus Track-Big Yellow Taxi, Amelia, Hejira, Woodstock
Interviews-Cast-Sound Bites - 9
Trailer-Travelogue Promo
Rating Rated E
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 91:56 (Case: 120)
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (59:27) Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Susan Lacy

Warner Vision
Starring Joni Mitchell
Bill Flanagan
David Crosby
Eric Andersen
James Taylor
Malka Marom
Stephen Holden
Tom Rush
David Geffen
Elliot Roberts
Graham Nash
Tom Manoff
Herbie Hancock
Case ?
RPI $34.95 Music Joni Mitchell

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.75:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This is a wonderfully detailed documentary on Joni Mitchell's life, and her music, lovingly written and directed by Susan Lacy and produced for broadcast as a TV special. It was aired by Canada's CBC over two nights in March 2003, but rumours about the film had been circulating amongst her fans for at least a year before then.

    The documentary also went through several working titles, including Joni Mitchell: Penitent of the Spirit and Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now And Then.

    The result of painstaking research, the documentary covers all aspects of Joni's life from early childhood (in Maidstone, Saskatchewan in the 1940s) to the present, including commentary on her major albums, her friends and relationships, and her paintings. I am convinced that years from now, she will be hailed as a great painter - her work is brilliant. And even if she had never sung a song, I suspect her poetic genius (as captured in the lyrics to her songs) will be appreciated.

    In addition to lots of historical footage, we are also treated to lots of contemporary interviews with Joni herself as well as a plethora of her friends, fellow musicians and production crew:

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Transfer Quality


    We are presented with a widescreen 16x9 enhanced transfer, nominally at 1.78:1 although I measured it to be approximately 1.75:1 (due to slight mail-slotting).

    A lot of the documentary is based on historical/archival footage in terms of film, video or stills, so the quality of the video is highly dependent on the source quality.

    The contemporary interviews come across perfectly, with high levels of detail, perfect colour saturation and no signs of compression artefacts.

    There are English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish subtitle tracks. I turned on the English subtitle tracks, which transcribed the interviews perfectly and even transcribed the lyrics to songs.

    This is a single sided dual layered disc (RSDL). The layer change occurs at the end of Chapter 5 at 59:27 and results in a minor, but not annoying, pause.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Surprising, for a documentary, we get three audio tracks, and they are all premium quality: English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s), English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s), and English dts 5.1 (1536Kb/s).

    I was particularly surprised by the inclusion of a full bitrate dts 5.1 audio track.

   As you would expect, this is the best sounding documentary I've experienced on DVD. Dialogue comes across crystal clear, with the kind of sparkle you get from high bitrates and low compression. The music excerpts also comes through clearly.

    The music excerpts are mainly directed towards the front left and right channels, with the centre and surround channels containing electronically generated ambience. The dialogue is directed towards the front centre channel. The subwoofer is only lightly utilized.

    All three tracks sound very good, with perhaps the dts track sounding slightly softer and "smoother" than the other two. The Dolby Digital audio tracks are encoded with dialog normalization set to +4dB.


    There are a reasonable amount of extras on this disc, consisting of interview shorts, bonus music videos, a photo gallery and a discography.


    The menus are full frame, but carefully done so that they also look okay when stretched to a widescreen frame. There is an animated menu introduction (including background music). The main menu is animated.

Bonus Track- Big Yellow Taxi (3:18), Amelia (6:34), Hejira (6:20), Woodstock (4:26)

    These are four songs from Joni's 1998 concert Painting With Words And Music. These are presented in 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) with three audio tracks (specifications similar to that for the main feature).

Interviews-Cast- Sound Bites - 9

    These are outtakes from interviews with Joni Mitchell, presented in 1.78:1 (16x9 enhanced) and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

   The interview segments are:

Gallery-Photo (0:44)

    This is a video montage of pans and zooms across various photos, presented in full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s) - although the audio track is silent.


    This is a set of linked nested menus giving the cover art of Joni's albums.

Trailer- Travelogue Promo (1:02)

    This is a commercial for Joni Mitchell's latest album - a double CD set featuring arrangements of Joni's songs accompanied by orchestra plus images of her paintings. It is presented in a combination of 2.00:1 letterboxed and full frame and Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s).

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This disc seems to be identically featured across both R1 and R4, apart from NTSC vs PAL formatting.


    A Woman Of Heart And Mind: A Life Story is a fascinating documentary on the life and music of Joni Mitchell.

    The video transfer quality is excellent but depends on the quality of the historical footage.

    The audio transfer quality is excellent.

    Extras include some bonus concert footage, additional interview segments, discography and photo gallery.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Christine Tham (read my biography)
Tuesday, December 30, 2003
Review Equipment
DVDLinn Unidisk 2.1, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW11HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics 16x9 matte white screen (254cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials/Ultimate DVD Platinum/AVIA. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE (upgraded)
SpeakersFront and surrounds: B&W CDM7NT, front centre: B&W CDMCNT, surround backs: B&W DM601S2, subwoofer: B&W ASW2500

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