Music of the Heart – Negative Change Begets Positive Change
“Music of the Heart” is a movie I had seen before on cable and enjoyed it so I decided to buy it for my collection. My family and I watched it together this past weekend (along with a couple other movies) and my husband and I discussed it afterwards. My impression upon watching this movie previously was that I admired the main character. Her resiliency in being a single mother and taking a job teaching in East Harlem was admirable and Meryl Streep did a fabulous job projecting the woman’s strength in dealing with her own situation as well as the exasperation any classroom teacher must feel when her students are not working as hard as they should be.
What was more obvious to me upon revisiting this film are the different elements of the storyline that not only make it a compelling story, but also illustrate what people are capable of when they are challenged (pushed out of their comfortable little box and into the harshness of the world) which is the basic beginning of any good story.
Roberta Guaspari Demetras, the main character in the movie (based on a true story), is a military housewife who reared her sons while moving from base to base with her husband. Her nomadic lifestyle prevented her from pursuing a career of her own. When her husband decides to leave her for one of her friends, she is forced to completely change her life. Cloris Leechman plays her mother in the movie and she is the catalyst in helping Roberta to accept that her situation has changed and that she needs to help herself. Roberta is then guided towards teaching after she runs into an old classmate while working a minimum wage job.
As Roberta grows in her job and begins to have a positive affect on the lives of her students, she also progresses in her private life, buys a house, kicks her inattentive man friend to the curb and regains her self respect.
Roberta’s violin program has benefited thousands of kids in East Harlem and it was because of her negative change in circumstances that she wound up starting the program which positively affected so many children’s lives. If Roberta’s husband had not left her for another woman, the children Roberta taught may not have had the opportunity to learn an instrument at all. Their lives would not have been enriched by her teaching. Sometimes bad beginnings wind up having happy endings.
Actually most stories start off with bad beginnings. They need to in order for the characters to have obstacles to overcome, battles to win, princesses to save. No story would be interesting if their characters were left to their own devices and unmolested by malevolent outside forces.
It really is nice to see a movie about someone who has made such a difference in people’s lives. Meryl Streep was exceptional in her role as strict teacher (though I can’t picture her being of Italian heritage!). I wonder if she actually got to meet Roberta (I would assume that she did) and what they made of each other. Both of them are extraordinary in their accomplishments. Both of them also seem very exacting in their standards for themselves and others. Finally both of them have made such a positive impact in their area of expertise.
This is a wonderful movie for the whole family to watch and I highly recommend it.