Glenn Holland is a musician and composer who takes a teaching job to pay the rent while, in his 'spare time', he can strive to achieve his true goal - compose one memorable piece of music to leave his mark on the world. As Holland discovers 'Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans' and as the years unfold the joy of sharing his contagious passion for music with his students becomes his new definition of success. Written by
So many people have complained about the Gertrude Lang character (Alicia Witt), Holland's interaction with her, and the purpose of the character, and I am simply amazed at the hostility.
1) "Playing the sunset" was Holland's way of getting Gertrude to relax so she could play the notes fluidly. They both knew that she didn't sound professional, and wasn't going to. The idea was to get her just above the level of making a fool of herself as she did the first time he called on her in class. Then she could, and did, perform in the band without dragging down the whole ensemble.
2) Her goal was not to be a professional musician. Did no one else hear her speech about "I just wanted to be good at *something*"? She listed all the fabulous achievements of her parents and siblings, and concluded, "I'm the only one who's..." The missing word would have been "useless" or "worthless". Or "a failure". Thirty years later she's the governor (not the mayor!), because in 1966, Holland helped her gain confidence for the first time.
3) She wasn't "wasting" Holland's efforts by going into politics. Art, music and theater education don't exist solely to create professional artists, musicians and actors. They also exist to give young people an opportunity for change and growth, even if they never use a paintbrush again.
I liked that plot twist. Almost every high school has an alumnus who has achieved something in art or entertainment, but a lot of people sell one painting or appear in one film and become a hero to their home town. But there are only fifty states, and it takes an extraordinary amount of drive to become governor of one of them. It's unlikely that she would have taken that first step towards empowerment without Holland.
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