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Shine (1996)

7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 38,178 users   Metascore: 87/100
Reviews: 97 user | 72 critic | 25 from Metacritic.com

Pianist David Helfgott, driven by his father and teachers, has a breakdown. Years later he returns to the piano, to popular if not critical acclaim.

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Title: Shine (1996)

Shine (1996) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 45 wins & 41 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Justin Braine ...
Tony
...
Sylvia
...
Sam
Alex Rafalowicz ...
Gordon Poole ...
Eisteddfod Presenter
...
...
Ben Rosen
Danielle Cox ...
Suzie - Child
Rebecca Gooden ...
Margaret
Marta Kaczmarek ...
Rachel
John Cousins ...
Jim Minogue
...
Paul Linkson ...
State Champion Announcer
...
Isaac Stern
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Storyline

Based on the true story of Australian pianist David Helfgott, this delightful movie charts the traumatic early years through adulthood. Telling the story in flashback we see David as a child prodigy and as he grows up while his patriarchal father abuses him and his siblings with the memory of his childhood in Europe and the loss of his family in the concentration camps. David finally breaks away from his father and goes away to study overseas, he later suffers a breakdown and returns to Australia and a life in an institution. Many years later he is released and through several twists of fate (in reality even more unlikely than film portrays) he starts playing a piano in a bar before finally returning to the concert hall. Written by randbanks@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

piano | pianist | australia | abuse | concert | See more »

Taglines:

A father whose life was his family. A son whose music was his life. See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for nudity/sensuality and intense thematic elements | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

20 November 1996 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Claroscuro  »

Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£702,400 (UK) (17 January 1997)

Gross:

$35,811,509 (USA) (30 May 1997)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Geoffrey Rush had once learned the piano up until aged fourteen. He took up piano lessons again thirty years later for the film and also acted as his own hand double body double. See more »

Goofs

The mezzuzah, a Jewish religious scroll attached to a home's door posts, on Ben Rosen's home is angled the wrong way; it should be angled toward the entrance of the home. See more »

Quotes

Cecil Parkes: You must play as if there's no tomorrow.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Himself: hand double for Geoffrey Rush See more »

Connections

Referenced in Janeane Garofalo (1997) See more »

Soundtracks

Appassionata Sonata, No. 23 In F Minor, Opus 57
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven
Performed by Ricky Edwards
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User Reviews

 
Powerful film
3 April 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Shine" purports to tell the story of David Helfgott (Geoffrey Rush, who plays the adult Helfgott), a promising pianist who overcame mental illness, with the help of his wife, and returned to performing.

The 1996 film is actually a fictionalized version of Helfgott's life - but even had it not been based on a true story, it remains a powerful, intriguing film.

David is the child of German émigrés who now live in Australia. His father Peter (Armin Mueller-Stahl) is a self-taught pianist who teaches David his same love of piano and classical music. There is love there, but as portrayed in the movie, Peter is a rigid man who gives his son mixed signals. He drives his son to succeed as a pianist, teaching him that winning is everything, and yet, when David has opportunities that would take him away from the family, Peter won't permit it. The reason for this is that Peter and his wife lost relatives in the Holocaust. Peter is also given to physical abuse toward David when he loses his temper.

David finally gets away from him and attends the Royal Conservatory in London, where, with the help of his teacher (John Gielgud), he wins an important competition but then suffers a severe nervous breakdown. The rest of the movie deals with the road back, which leads him home to Australia and to his wife, Gillian. Gillian is actually his second wife, though the first marriage isn't mentioned in the film.

The dominant performances belong to Rush and Mueller-Stahl. Rush does a brilliant job of showing us the likable but stuttering David who speaks rapidly and repetitively, expressing himself through music. Mueller-Stahl as the tortured Peter is fabulous, a man who is both monstrous and pitiable. In a small role, John Gielgud of course makes a fine impression as an elderly teacher, a wonderful pianist himself, who believes in David's talent.

The best scene is David playing Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #3 - Helfgott's own recording of the piece is used - and the aftermath. What I missed in this film is music - there was a lot of talk about David's promise, but until the Rachmaninoff not much playing.

Helfgott's work today has been deeply criticized for being - well, lousy. A review in The New York Times of one of his concerts is horrible. The reviewer, however, mentions that Helfgott occasionally showed vestiges of excellent technique. I think it's safe to assume that his playing nowadays is more erratic than it was in his earlier years. There are several examples of Helfgott's playing in the movie: "La Campanella," "Hungarian Rhapsody No 2 In C Sharp Minor," "Flight of the Bumble Bee," Rachmaninoff's "Prelude In C Sharp Minor, Opus 3, No. 2," the previously mentioned Rachmaninoff 3, and Liszt's "Sospiro," and it is all quite stunning. Rush does the fingerings himself. One of the comments also claims that Helfgott's wife has Helfgott perform on no medication so that he'll seem crazy - it's common for performers on medication for mental problems to have to cycle off of it before performing. I don't think the commenter has any idea what Helfgot is like on his medication - certainly in the film, he acts strangely.

"Shine" is highly recommended for its fantastic performances, beautiful music, and its inspiring story.


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