Mr. Holland's Opus

It's not about the direction you take.

It's about the direction you give.

Mr. Holland's Opus is a 1995 drama film in which
Richard Dreyfuss
plays Glenn Holland, a musician and composer who takes a teaching job to pay the rent while trying to compose one memorable piece of music to make him famous.

The plot follows Mr. Holland's teaching career over a thirty year span. The film features American history from the 1960s to the 1990s, including the Vietnam War, assassination of John Lennon, and the Watergate scandal. The story also deals with the issues of attitudes towards the deaf and the cutting of arts programs in public schools across the United States.

The film features an orchestral score by Michael Kamen and many pieces of classical music. Kamen also wrote An American Symphony, the work Mr. Holland is shown working on throughout the movie.

Dreyfuss was nominated for an Oscar and a Golden Globe. It also stars Glenne Headly, Jay Thomas, Olympia Dukakis, William H. Macy, Alicia Witt, Terrence Howard, Jean Louisa Kelly, and Joanna Gleason. (wikipedia)

Dreyfuss with Alicia Witt (Gertrude) in one of my favourite scenes.

With Terence Howard (Louis)

Glenn Holland (Dreyfuss) with wife Iris (Glenne Headley)

Teaching rhythm to Louis...

Favourite quotes:

Playing music is supposed to be fun. It's about heart, it's about feelings, moving people, and something beautiful, and it's not about notes on a page. I can teach you notes on a page, I can't teach you that other stuff.

Mr Holland: Which instrument do you think you'd like to play?
Louis Russ: Well, I was kinda thinkin' like... How about electric guitar?
Mr Holland: Well, this is a marching band. The extension cord will kill us.

Mr. Holland: Let me ask you a question. When you look in the mirror, what do you like best about yourself?
Gertrude Lang: My hair.
Mr. Holland: Why?
Gertrude Lang: Well, my father always says that it reminds him of the sunset.
Mr. Holland: Play the sunset. Close your eyes. One, two, three, four.

Adult Gertrude Lang: Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn't rich and he isn't famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he's achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.

One of my fave scenes is how Holland showed them how Lover's Concerto was based on Bach's Minuet in G Major and to realize how music can be reinvented years later.

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