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Monday, May 19, 2008

Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)

Mr. Holland's Opus was a very touching movie released in 1995, based on the story of a would be composer (trying to create his magnum opus, the piece of music that would become so popular that it would make him famous). Instead, as a result of circumstances, he is forced to take a job teaching music to a generation of students; it is this teaching the properties of music, the love of music, about confidence, respect. This development of his students is his actual legacy, his major achievement in life. Mr. Holland's Opus is a movie that celebrates the noble profession of teaching, where a good teacher can mould his students to become good human beings. The movie went to be a decent commercial success, not of the same level as the action oriented movies, but made a respectable $100 million worldwide.

Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)

The role surely is a role that Richard Dreyfuss will treasure as one of his best performances, and he was nominated for an Oscar for this role (he did not win, the Best Actor role going to Nicholas Cage for 'Leaving Las Vegas'). The movie reviews get 2 different types of reviews: Some see it as a great movie that spans 3 decades of a man's life, his most productive years and sees what he has made of those years (and that accomplishment does not necessarily mean being rich or having a great name); the second type of reviews see the movie as a tear-jerker that plays on one's emotions with a finale scene that is written to bring out the tears of the audience. I agree with both, but see the tear jerker as a natural part of the storyline.
The movie is set in Oregon in 1964 where Glen Holland is an aspiring composer and musician wanting to create his great work of music that will be his glory and lead to success; however, his responsibilities (his wife is pregnant) leads to him having to take up the job of a music teacher at a local high school. Like any other school, he faces a wide group of students, some are willing, some are rebellious, some are very talented and others not so. He strives to inculcate a love of music in them, using this as a method to better their character. At the same time his ambition to teach his son to become a great musician reaches a high level of frustration when he realizes that his son is deaf. He has to conquer this frustration and form bonds with his son while dealing with a wide variety of students, during a time when the US was going through major upheavals - Vietnam, civil rights, the assassination of John Lennon, etc. The movie also showcases the priorities of school life, with sports and science getting a much higher priority over music, and including the cutting of the music budget.
Probably the best way to summarize the theme of the movie is this line:
Mr. Holland might think himself a failure..." one former student laments near the end of the story... "and he would be wrong..."
The soundtrack of the film has the following songs:
1. Visions Of A Sunset - Shawn Stockman (of Boyz II Men)
2. One, Two, Three - Len Barry
3. A Lover's Concerto - The Toys
4. Keep On Running - Spencer Davis Group
5. Uptight - Stevie Wonder
6. Imagine - John Lennon
7. The Pretenders - Jackson Brown
8. Someone To Watch Over Me - Julia Fordham
9. I Got A Woman - Ray Charles
10. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) - John Lennon
11. Cole's Song - Julian Lennon
12. An American Symphony (Mr. Holland's Opus) - Michael Kamen

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