Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Perfect Harmony

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:4th - 6th Grades
Profanity:Racial epithets
Nudity/Sex:None
Alcohol/Drugs:Cigarettes
Violence/Scariness:Black boy drowns (off camera); Klan-style thug-like behavior
Diversity Issues:A theme of the movie
Movie Release Date:1993

The story takes place in Georgia, at an all-white private boys’ boarding school called Blanton, in 1959. Blanton is famous for its boys’ choir. The candidates for the prestigious “lead boy” position in the choir include Paul, an angry, bigoted boy, and Taylor, who remonstrates mildly when Paul plays mean pranks on a Northern boy in an attempt to get him to leave.

Derek Saunders (Peter Scolari), a new choirmaster, arrives from Boston. And Landy, a black boy whose parents have died, arrives to live with his grandfather Zeke (Moses Gunn), a janitor at the school.

Landy is entranced by the choir music, as Taylor is by the blues and gospel he hears Landy play on his harmonica. They become friends, though Taylor betrays Landy by publicly belittling the death of another black boy. Derek appoints Taylor lead boy in the choir, even though he knows it will cost him his job at Blanton and the possible affections of the headmaster’s daughter. When Taylor is injured in a hate crime, he and Derek arrange for Landy to take his place as soloist for the performance.

The strength of this movie is that it does not begin to pretend the issues it raises can be (or were) resolved simply. Throughout the movie, the local black community tries, with increasing assertiveness, to be allowed to swim in the municipal pool. There is no resolution.

Landy may have been permitted to sing with the choir for one performance, but there is no suggestion he will ever be admitted as a student (or indeed ever be allowed on campus again). And Derek, faced with a choice between his conscience and his wish to remain at Blanton, makes Taylor lead boy and has to face the consequences.

It also shows nicely the power of music in the lives of Landy and Taylor. They share something transcending their differences. Love for music makes Landy risk not being “invisible” so he can hear the choir rehearsal. Love for music makes Taylor take the risk of breaking the rules by leaving school to go to hear it played, even though he will be the only white person there. Derek criticizes the choir for concentrating too much on technical perfection, and not enough on feeling the composer’s exaltation and passion. And he tells Taylor boys should risk breaking the rules and get away from school once in a while.

The movie makes it clear that Paul’s bigotry and hostility are in part displaced emotions stemming from his parents’ neglect. One of his roommates says, after another in a series of visiting days when Paul’s parents are the only ones who don’t attend, “I wish he’d get mad at them instead of us.”

Parents should know that the movie includes an offscreen death and racial intimidation and violence, including strong racist language. A boy smokes a cigarette.

Families who see this movie should talk Landy’s grandfather saying that he has lasted as long as he has at the school by “being invisible.” What does that mean? What do you learn from the way the boys talk to Derek about the Civil War? Why do they have different views? If they were taught to believe one thing and he was taught another, how do you know which is right? Why does Taylor call the boy who died “some stupid kid”? Listen carefully to the music in this movie. Do the songs they sing relate to the story at all?

Families who enjoy this movie should note musician Richie Havens as “Scrapper Johnson,” a blues musician who appears at a fund-raiser to rebuild the church after it is bombed by racists. Another movie about a boys’ choir is Almost Angels.



Previous Posts

Is This the End of Television?
Last week both cable giant HBO and broadcast giant CBS made announcements that signal the end of television as we know it.  Both responded to the clear message of the market and said that they would make their content available in the form and via the delivery system consumers prefer -- the interne

posted 3:24:08pm Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Dylan Baker on Directing for the First Time in the Fact-Based High School Football Movie "23 Blast"
Dylan Baker is probably best remembered for playing some of the most horrific villains imaginable ("The Good Wife," "Happiness").  But his extensive career has included wild comedies ("Planes, Trains, and Automobiles," "Anchorman 2"), historical drama (he was Robert McNamara in "13 Days"), and even

posted 8:00:11am Oct. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Best Movies About Writers
Flavorwire has put together a great list of the 50 best movies about writers. It's always tricky to make a writer interesting on film. On one hand, you have the advantage of a character who is likely to be witty and eloquent. Movies are written by writers, so they have some insight and appreciatio

posted 3:37:07pm Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

Great News About Now You See Me 2
You didn't think Arthur Tressler was going to let them get away with it, did you? I am very happy that one of the most entertaining films of 2013, Now You See Me is getting a sequel and the stars, including Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, and Woody Harrelson, are back, alo

posted 8:00:59am Oct. 21, 2014 | read full post »

In the Footsteps of St. Peter
[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4c7qh9hMVY[/youtube] David Suchet (PBS' Hercule Poirot) is the host of In the Footsteps of St. Peter, out tomorrow on DVD.

posted 3:55:57pm Oct. 20, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.