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Shine (1996)

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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.

Director:

Scott Hicks

Writers:

Jan Sardi (screenplay), Scott Hicks (story)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 45 wins & 50 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Geoffrey Rush ... David Helfgott - Adult
Justin Braine Justin Braine ... Tony
Sonia Todd ... Sylvia
Chris Haywood ... Sam
Alex Rafalowicz Alex Rafalowicz ... David Helfgott - Child
Gordon Poole Gordon Poole ... Eisteddfod Presenter
Armin Mueller-Stahl ... Peter
Nicholas Bell ... Ben Rosen
Danielle Cox Danielle Cox ... Suzie - Child
Rebecca Gooden Rebecca Gooden ... Margaret
Marta Kaczmarek ... Rachel
John Cousins John Cousins ... Jim Minogue
Noah Taylor ... David Helfgott - Adolescent
Paul Linkson Paul Linkson ... State Champion Announcer
Randall Berger ... Isaac Stern
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Storyline

As a child piano prodigy, David Helfgott's musical ambitions generate friction with his overbearing father, Peter. When Helfgott travels to London on a musical scholarship, his career as a pianist blossoms. However, the pressures of his newfound fame, coupled with the echoes of his tumultuous childhood, conspire to bring Helfgott's latent schizophrenia boiling to the surface, and he spends years in and out of various mental institutions. Written by Jwelch5742

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

One of the most celebrated and successful films in Australian film history See more »


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Australia

Language:

English | Yiddish

Release Date:

14 February 1997 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Claroscuro See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$162,179, 24 November 1996, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$35,811,509, 30 May 1997
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The total period of principal photography on this picture ran for forty-two days. See more »

Goofs

Aluminium roller shutters on the Helfgott family home. See more »

Quotes

Cecil Parkes: No one's ever been mad enough to attempt the Rach Three.
David: Am I mad enough, professor? Am I?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Himself: hand double for Geoffrey Rush See more »


Soundtracks

Why Do They Doubt Our Love
Written and Performed by Johnny O'Keefe
© 1959 Victoria Music/MCA Australia Pty Ltd, © 1959 Festival Records Pty Ltd.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Powerful film
3 April 2009 | by blanche-2See 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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