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I was 10 when this movie came out and in a boychoir at the time. For
someone in my position, the music sung by the Blanton boys was so
relatable. I've done the solo of Laudate Dominum that Taylor does in
the opening scene of the movie. Keeping with the theme of music, the
film accurately shows the two ends of the spectrum from classical to
blues as depicted by Taylor's world and Landy's world, respectively.
The pieces are well chosen on both sides. The unchanged voices in the
film provide a certain nostalgia for me since my days as a soprano are
long gone. Some others on IMDb have questioned how or if boys can sing
that high. Speaking from personal experience, yes unchanged boys voices
sound exactly like they do in the movie. I myself could sing soprano
until I was 12.
As for the other theme of the film, racial tension in the south during the 1950s, the film is also very realistic. I am black and although I don't speak from personal experience, my own studies of that period in American history combined with comments from my parents and grandparents that were present during that time paint a very similar picture. There was an almost palpable tension between blacks and whites especially in the deep south. I think the movie demonstrates that tension. It also demonstrates the movement of change that would culminate with the Civil Rights movement during the 1960s. The strong friendship Taylor and Landy develop stems from their mutual love of music. They show interest in what they've grown up hearing as well as the music of other cultures. To both of them, music in any form is beautiful. The ultimate lesson of the story centers around how music can act as bridge.
I would highly recommend this movie. It's a great film for the family to watch to open a dialogue regarding race. There are acts of violence along racial lines and KKK references, but the realism of the movie makes it worth watching.
How very pleased I was to come upon this film. I teach Elementary School music and this film really works well. I can show it during Black History Month to focus on the racial prejudice portrayed in the film. I can also use it to show the wonderful aspect of boys involvement in the music field. I find it quite difficult to find appropriate things to show my music students that are relevant, as this movie is. I also find that the storyline really makes my students think about how the whites treated blacks/colored of the time. They are quite offended that ANYONE would treat African American or any other people this way. What an insightful film. BRAVO to Disney and this wonderful story.
Perfect Harmony is a somewhat simplistic morality play about the tensions
between whites and blacks in a small South Carolina community in 1959.
There are scenes at the local swimming pool and on the 'wrong side of the
tracks', but most of the action takes place on the campus of Blanton
Academy, a fictitious, lily-white, private, boys' school world-renowned
its vocal music program. The high point of the Blanton school year is the
picking of the 'Lead Boy' from among the seniors in the vocal music
The Lead Boy is then featured at the graduation sing.
The majority of the action involves the two top candidates for Lead Boy as well as a black youngster whose grandfather is the maintenance person for the school. While both of the white boys are southern, one is a rabid racist; the other is more open and tolerant. Marc, the yankee roommate played aptly by Skye Ashley Berdahl, brings additional conflicts to the production.
Eugene Byrd as Landy Allen was the most believable of the characters to me. His interactions with blacks and whites were unstrained and natural, making his performance the most believable. Justin Whalen as Taylor Bradshaw came in a close second. He seemed well suited to the role; he, too, brought realism to his performance. David Faustino's racist character, Paul, was easy to dislike; I guess that means he did a good job, too. Moses Gunn was well-placed as Landy's grandfather, Zeke. Cleavon Little brought realistic energy and a masterful performance as Pastor Clarence Johnson of the blacks' church. (It's hard to believe that this actor could display so much energy and talent in this film, yet die of colon cancer hardly more than a year later. What a loss!)
The plot is liberally sprinkled with vocal music, most of it classical. I recognized Mozart, Schubert, and Handel, but there were others as well. The singing in the blacks' church and at their community gatherings provided an interesting counterpoint. To me, the music was by far the best part of the movie. In a no doubt carefully planned twist, the lyrics of each piece fitted like a glove the action of the moment, focusing a Christian microscope on the racist underpinnings of the story.
The school choir was loaded with clear, pure, youthful sopranos, and their singing was technically and emotionally exceptional. In contrast, the sheer energy, exuberance, and faith expressed by the blacks' choir showed that there's more than one way to express one's religious beliefs and social convictions. The appearance of Richie Havens singing "C. C. Rider" and "I Shall Not Be Moved" at a fundraiser for the black community was a special treat.
Unfortunately, the music also provided lows. Peter Scolari as choir master Derek Sanders had plenty of great lines, but it was obvious that he'd never directed a musical performance, and his character was too often insipid when intensity was expected. Darrin McGavin (head-in-the-sand-Headmaster Mr. Hobbs) suffered from the same shortcoming in an otherwise believable performance. We're asked to believe that the seniors in the choir are still sopranos. In real life they were all 17 when this movie was filmed; their conversational voices were mature. Please!
In spite of this, I found myself with belief suspended, immersed in a believable world with believable characters, thoroughly enjoying myself. I rated Perfect Harmony a 9.
This movie has stuck out in my memory since I first saw it as a 6 year
old back in 1991. The songs, the story line, everything. I saw it on TV
and for years couldn't remember enough about it to nail down the name.
I'd searched for it various ways on google, IMDb, and other random
ways. The music was a huge part that stuck out to me. For years I have
still remembered the music. I could sing it but I didn't have a clue
what the names of the songs were, and didn't know how to find out.
Just tonight I decided to take another swing at it and search again. I typed a few key words in (movie boys choir school racism...) hoping I'd get some where.. and much to my surprise there it was "Perfect Harmony".. i was floored.. All these years later, and who knows how many attempts to find this movie and finally- success. I then was able to find another site which listed the music from the movie and bingo now all these classical songs which have been stuck in my head for years I can actually listen to. It's really incredibly awesome.
This movie is a great movie, def worth the watch and, at least for me, worth the buy.
I've loved this movie since I was a kid and saw it for the first time.
I'd watch it every day, then sing myself to sleep with the songs I learned from it, whether they were in English or Latin (jibberish when I'd sing them). This is a great movie for musicians, a great movie to take to school, full of awesome music and lots of eye-openers. Music is as prominent a character as Taylor and Landy in this movie and the different types of music and where they are played in the movie represent the issue of racism, but not as directly as the storyline in the movie.
Most people who watch it with friends will tear it apart because it's a little predictable and there are some cheesy parts, but those are inevitable in any movie. Watch it and you'll end up loving it too.
It's not a waste of your time, just watch it and you won't regret it.
The song goes that I'd love to teach the world to sing in perfect
harmony. Unfortunately, in the area of racism and segregation, perfect
harmony has yet to be achieved.
This film takes place in a South Carolina elite private school for boys in 1959, when segregation was the in-thing down south. The school supposedly prepares boys to take their place in the world-a world where they will continue to practice segregation.
The best performance in the film is given by Darren McGavin, the headmaster, who epitomizes the old southern tradition of bigotry. His daughter conveys an absolutely phony southern accent and her attempt to emulate Scarlett O'Hara is outlandish at best.
You would certainly think that the conflict between the new choirmaster and McGavin would come to the front due to the former's liberal ideas but this really doesn't happen. By the way, who was that brat of a young Klansman who attacks our white hero, Taylor, so viciously? We never find this out.
The film also deals with the coming friendship of Taylor and a black child, an orphaned grandson of the handyman, played nicely by the usually reliable Moses Gunn. Miscast in the film is Cleavon Little, as the town preacher. His call for justice is made in a voice that sounds too familiar from "Blazing Saddles" in 1974.
It has to be said that the boys exhibit beautiful choir singing.
Paul, the promising student, is consumed by hatred. We see his typical rebelliousness due to being insecure, parents who never come to visit and his trend to sneaking a smoke in private areas.
The film should be praised for its attempt to wipe out bigotry. Unfortunately, this problem is too big to be conveyed in 1:33 minutes.
Perfect harmony is really a movie that u didn't really realize that u
were going to watch it someday....
When it was the first time i ever saw the movie i first thought "this movie is really cool" after that.. i heard them sing and that caught my attention real fast! As soon as i saw that i also thought how could they sing that high?? that was really amazing to me b/c i never actually seen a movie with singing that i was actually interested in and it had a very catchy story as well. Taylor (justin whalin) and Landy where really great friends and they didn't care at all that they were two different colors.
Paul seemed like he really hated landy and didn't get to know him from the inside first b4 actually being bad to him. un like Taylor, Taylor saw inside of landy and not the outside. He really treated him like a family member or even like a brother.
Perfect harmony was my favorite movie. And i give that movie a 10. I watched that movie about 14 times in three days b/c i loved it so much. I recommend this movie to everyone that is into that kind of music like classic like and is interested in movies that happened in the olden days like around 1959. So other then that i give Perfect Harmony a 10!
Honestly I started watching this film with the attitude that the cheese was just going to squeeze out of my VCR, but I would get out some good laughs. But much to my suprise the movie is well written and very believable. Justin Whalin (D&D and Lois and Clark) gives the best performance. The music is really for those who appreciate all forms of music, otherwise...you probably will laugh. All in all this is definately one for the family, with good acting and a heartwarming story.
Perfect Harmony is one of those perfect films that you occasionally
come across by accident.
As a former teacher and a lover of Chorale music, especially boys choirs, I watched the film basically because of the choir. I thought that the film would be very much like Disney's 1960's film Almost Angeles, spotlighting the Weinersangerknaben (Vienna Boys Choir), long on music but very short on story line.
I was very pleasantly surprised to find a very believable, moralistic story with a deep meaning to me. As a very conservative person, I have a very liberal streak when it comes to social issues. Especially race relations.
Justin Whalin was a standout, as were most of the other young actors. I was disappointed with Darin McGavin's performance as I feel that racist tendencies are very deep rooted. Darin just seem to be too shallow in his beliefs.
Overall I can honestly say that this was one of the movies that really stand out in my mind, especially as this post is being made in December 2004, several years after seeing the movie.
First of all, this film was very, very well done. The tension between the
whites and the blacks is very realistic and you can literally feel the
tension. The injustice done to the blacks is also very well done - it's not
sugarcoated at any time.
The music was very well-done. The boys choir was very well-done (Can boys actually sing that high?) I found the blacks more interesting in their singing than the whites. While white people tend to have restrained singing, blacks take it all out and sing like singing was meant to be. The different organs used was interesting, too. While the boys choir used a traditional pipe organ, the blacks used a good, old-fashioned Hammond Organ for their accompaniment (very appropriate).
Although the ending was on the predictable side, it was still touching to see. This is another great family film and a good film to use in teaching children about the evils of racism and why it is to be avoided at all costs.
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