Monday, January 10, 2011

Movies You Might Have Missed Mondays

I mentioned a couple weeks ago that January is Right to Life Month. Most often, we associate choosing life with the issue of unplanned pregnancy and abortion, as it should. But I’d like to push the boundaries a little with this week’s suggested film, Music Within.

It’s the story of Richard Pimentel, played by Ron Livingston (most famous for Office Space), and his quest to become a super hero.

Well, not exactly. But sort of.

Based on a true story, Music Within gives us a snapshot of what it used to be like to live in America with a physical disability. Richard is a Viet Nam vet who lost his hearing in a bombing during the war. Stateside, he encounters barriers pretty quickly when he attempts to enroll in college and is denied because of his deafness. He works hard and overcomes this barrier, but it left him with a bitter taste. He soon finds out, though, his experience pales in comparison to a new friend’s daily struggle.

Played expertly by Michael Sheen (The Queen, The Twilight Saga), Richard’s friend Art, also a student in the college Richard got in to, has severe cerebral palsy. He’s confined to a wheel chair, he shakes and jerks uncontrollably, he drools, he speaks only with great effort and patience.

They become friends because Richard can’t hear anyone speak… except for Art.

Through a series of events and over a course of nearly two decades, because of his relationship with Art and efforts to help disabled vets get good jobs, Richard influences the course of history through his involvement of the passing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

It surprised me to find out the year that passed – 1990. Also surprised me to discover cities actually had “Ugly” laws, preventing people with severe physical disabilities and handicaps from appearing in public. Chicago was the last to repeal that law, as late as 1974!

Watching this movie may not be for everyone – not because of its subject, but because it’s rated R for language and adult situations – I mean, the main character is a war vet in the 70s. So, sensitive ones beware.

However, I still recommend it because the message is a stark eye-opener. It made me evaluate my compassion meter and question my definition of “quality of life.”

Do I see all human life as valuable, purposeful and important? Do I pass judgment too quickly on those who have to live life differently than I do? Do I question God for “cursing” individuals with certain disabilities without first considering the possibility that their quality of life soars over mine.

I like this movie for its clear, unadulterated message, but also for its humor, heart, soundtrack, and special appearances – mainly Hector Elizondo as the college professor and Leslie Nielsen! as one of Richard’s ear doctors.

The title Music Within is taken from a quote attributed to poet and scholar, Oliver Wendell Holmes, that says: Most of us go to our graves with music still inside us.

While this movie advocates that not only should people change how they think about disabled people (listen for their music), but disabled people should also alter their perspective of themselves (realize they have music to play), I challenge us all not to be that person who prevents music from flowing from anyone.

And in that way, we can all be super heros.

Have a great week, Dry Ground friends!


lynnrush said...

Great post, Lori.

Anonymous said...


Loved the movie and love your perspective.

KM Wilsher said...

Sounds touching. . .Thanks for sharing :)