There are times when sound design, original composition, and classical music can go together perfectly. We saw this in a few of our previous snapshots 'Amadeus' and 'Immortal Beloved', but this 1996 biographical drama based on pianist David Helfgott also does this to near perfection.
This scene in particular is a significant climactic event in the story. After going against his father's wishes to attend the Royal College of Music in London, Helfgott studies the Rach 3 - one of Rachmaninoff's most famous piano concertos, not only for its difficulty, but also for its emotional gravitas. Throughout his entire life, David aspired to play this concerto, and performing it was everything he aspired to become as a musician. Ironically, this also triggers a psychotic breakdown changing the course of his entire life thereafter.
The film does an excellent job of distilling the Rach 3 into some important musical moments, but the film itself does some wonderful things through its own language. For one, pay attention to the angles of the camera - circling and forcing you to be very close to not only his manic hands, but his face, sweat, and mental state. You see flashbacks to David's estranged father who feels immense guilt for pushing his son away. You then get thrust into a soupy, echo-filled audio sequence which brings you into his POV while playing the forceful climax, then snapping you back to reality at the end. The film really does an excellent job making you experience Helfgott's impending mental breakdown. If you haven't seen this film, do so immediately.
Where to watch: https://letterboxd.com/film/shine/
Listen to the score: https://open.spotify.com/album/7mYLvOvCwFieHsXCb4J5sX?si=12gw5Xd9SdWRfQth4TTkaw&dl_branch=1
Every Monday and Wednesday, SCORE CUE SNAPSHOTS brings you iconic scenes married to the corresponding score cue without dialogue and SFX, thus allowing anyone to appreciate how the score works with what you see unfold on-screen.