Shine

Article excerpt

Scott Hicks' movie Shine tells the true story of Australian pianist David Helfgott, the child prodigy success, emotional breakdown and recovery. This film documents young David's (played by Alex Rafalowicz) childhood relationship with Peter, his father (Armin Mueller-Stahl)--a proud but poor Polish immigrant whose survival was due to his physical strength and fortitude. "Win" he tells young David as he enters piano competitions; and when David does win and is promised studies abroad, his father forbids his leaving home.

Peter's strength and passion batters David physically and emotionally but David does leave home to pursue studies, even though his father cuts him off from the family, forbidding him ever to come home.

Arriving at London's Royal Academy of Music, adolescent David (now played by Noah Taylor) studies with a curmudgeonly old professor (John Gielgud) and takes on the school's concerto competition, opting to learn and perform the notoriously difficult Piano Concert No. 3 by Rachmaninoff. The romanticism of the concerto expresses David's own struggle to survive.

In the competition, he must win -- and he does, but he loses his sanity. The physical and emotional demands of the concerto are so great that when he finishes his performance, Helfgott collapses at the piano, is carried out of the concert hall and is admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

By the time we meet him as an adult (played by Geoffrey Rush) David is isolated from society, living in his own world and speaking in a stream of consciousness babble that both alienates and delights strangers and friends alike.

With the support of new friends he finally he leaves the hospital, returns to the piano and develops relationships with people who are patient with his emotional immaturity and awed by his musical virtuosity. He meets an astrologer, Gillian (played by Lynn Redgrave) who not only stays long enough with him to make sense of his babbling but falls in love with him and marries him. …