Thursday, March 13, 2008

August Rush, revisited

Now that the movie, August Rush, is out on DVD, interest in the film is high, and many people are finding my blog with the search terms "August Rush true story."

I just want to clarify this for any one who might be under the impression that the story of August Rush has any relationship to reality: It is not a true story! The movie is pure fantasy, with so many logical loopholes that it is hard to set them aside and enjoy the movie, even though there is a cellist in it.

Here is a quote from the boy (whose name is later changed to August Rush by the Wizard, played by Robin Williams) beginning of the movie that should give you a clue:
I believe in music the way some people believe in fairy tales. But I hear it came from my mother and father. Once upon a time, they fell in love.
The boy is growing up in an Dickensonian orphanage in an isolated location in upstate New York, the product of a one-night stand between an Irish guitarist and a cellist (during which so few words were exchanged so "lust" might be the more operative word), sheltered from real life by her father, who manages to give her baby up for adoption without telling her, by telling her that it died and forging her signature on the adoption papers.

But, the story goes on. The child, now 11 years old, has refused to be adopted because he is waiting for his real parents to show up. One wonders how he managed to convey his wishes to social workers as an infant. He hears the music in the grasslands all around him, but has never seen a guitar or a piano, so one has to assume he has never left the grounds of the orphanage, and the orphanage has no tvs, radios, CD players, Internet, or iPods.

The boy decides to go to New York City to find his parents, and quickly is found by a street urchin gang of musical prodigies who live in an abandoned theater with their "protector," Robin Williams (modeled after Fagin and his band of pickpockets in "Oliver") and learns to play the guitar and the organ. Shortly after that he is not only enrolled in Julliard, but he has become a composer and has written a symphony that he will conduct at a huge concert in Central Park. Oh, and his mother, who hasn't picked up the cello in 11 years, is also on the program as a Julliard grad, playing a solo with the same orchestra. And his dad is in town for a gig.

I like fairy tales and magic and ambiguity, but I like believable unbelievability, if you know what I mean. This movie just asks me to suspend disbelief a few too many times.

On the other hand, if there had been a little more cello playing, and cello playing not smothered by guitar playing, I might have suspended a boatload of disbelief.


Anonymous said...

hi, i saw August Rush just a view weeks ago (it took some time to be able to watch the movie on DVD in Germany...:) ) and because I also play the cello I was excited. Since then i am trying to find out what kind of piece this introduction cello part is? Do you happen to know? thanks! sarah

Maricello said...

The only information I have on the cello music is from Wikipedia, which says: "The final number with Lyla and Louis begins with Lyla playing the Adagio-Moderato from Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto in E Minor."

Anonymous said...

thank you very much!