BBC last night aired the 1996 movie Shine featuring a deservedly Oscar-winning performance from Geoffrey Rush (better known these days for playing Captain Barbarossa in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) as the talented Australian pianist David Helfgott. Tormented from childhood by his strict and disciplinarian father, Helfgott suffers a mental breakdown and the film tells the story of how he regained the confidence to later play in packed concert halls again.
The film was said to be based on a true story and this certainly made for a more compelling movie and gave it tremendous power. Rush’s performance was just outstanding and according to the credits he played the piano scenes himself and did not use a double. It was all in all, a wonderful story of ultimate redemption.
After the movie ended I looked up ‘David Helfgott’ on the internet and found his official website. However, I also this scathing review of the movie which suggested that far from being a true story large parts of the film – including the central abusive father character – were just fabricated.
Oh well, at least I got to learn a little something about Rachmaninov’s music. Must order the Rach 3 featuring a decent pianist.