Today, after cleaning my house and feeding my children a dinner of “let’s eat what we find in the fridge or freezer”, I watched Music of the Heart. It was probably on Lifetime or O or some other sappy channel weeks and weeks ago, and I remembered that it had looked interesting and I recorded it.
Described in the opening credits as being ‘inspired by a documentary’, the film opens with Roberta having been deserted by her husband and feeling devastated and almost suicidal. Encouraged by her mother, she attempts to rebuild her life and a friend recommends her to the head teacher of a school in the tough New York area of East Harlem. Despite a degree in music education, she has little experience in actual music teaching, but she’s taken on as a substitute violin teacher. With a combination of toughness and determination, she manages to inspire a group of kids, and their initially very skeptical parents. The program slowly develops and attracts publicity.
As I was watching this movie, I got choked up more than once. Tears were escaping my eyes. But then my children needed me, so I pushed pause and went to go and look after them. When I came back and watched it again, the same thing happened again.
Ten years later, the string program is still running successfully, but suddenly the school budget is cut and Roberta is out of a job. Determined to fight the cuts, she enlists the support of former pupils, parents and teachers and plans a grand fund-raising concert ‘Fiddlefest’, to raise money so that the program can continue. But with a few weeks to go and all participants furiously rehearsing, they lose the venue. Fortunately,the husband of a publicist friend is a violinist in a string quartet, and he enlists the support of other well-known musicians, including Isaac Stern and Itzhak Perlman. They arrange for the concert to be mounted at Carnegie Hall. Other famous musicians join in the performance, which is a resounding success.
As I watched those kids practice for their upcoming benefit concert, with great obstacles keep coming up, there I go crying again. It’s not like they aren’t going to succeed, for heaven’s sake. The movie is actually quite predictable, but there I am, wiping away my tears. I mean, MERCIFUL HEAVENS– WHAT IF MERYL STREEP DOESN’T RAISE ENOUGH MONEY AND THEY HAVE TO CUT HER PROGRAM? It would be Mr. Holland’s Opus all over again!
There’s obviously something wrong with me. I cry over everything. Really. All they have to do is show a picture of a puppy and play some music and I’ll practically burst into tears! Remember those etoys commercials? The ones where they played IZ’s “Somewhere over the Rainbow”? Those made me cry every time.
Of course, this is the song they played on ER when Dr. Greene died, too, so I almost ALWAYS cry when I hear this song, now.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch Minnesota Cuke and the search for the magic hairbrush or something like that. Don’t worry, I’ll have my Kleenex ready.