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David Helfgott - A Musical Journey
David Helfgott - A Musical Journey
Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2007     1hr 35min

This South Bank Show presentation profiles David Helfgott, the Australian classical pianist whose extraordinary life-story inspired the Oscar-winning film Shine. Following the huge success of Shine, David Helfgott has retu...  more »


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Movie Details

Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Studio: Kultur Video
Format: DVD - Color - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/27/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 35min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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Movie Reviews

An in depth look at piano prodigy David Helfgott
Amy | 12/03/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"If you didn't know already courtesy of the movie Shine, Australian pianist David Helfgott was born of Polish Jewish parents in 1947, studied in London in the late 1960s, suffered a mental breakdown and was rehabilitated in the 1980s. In 1997 he undertook a world tour and Melvyn Bragg made the documentary which takes up about half this DVD. The other half is part of a recital given in Nottingham before an enraptured audience. The very first point which comes across in the documentary is the disparity between the reactions of audiences and most critics to Helfgott's playing. One of the critics, Andrew Clements, was unable to continue listening and became a deserter at half time. But Norman Lebrecht, who has certainly un mellowed in the last ten years, comes to Helfgott's defense. In this respect the documentary does well in assessing the pianist's stature. His coach Peter Feuchtwanger is interviewed and freely admits to his inconsistency. Helfgott's limitations in coping with larger structures are also demonstrated to us. The principal compensations are here attributed to a spiritual element to his playing but I would suspect that it is Helfgott's ability to communicate that wins over the audiences. The documentary seeks to explore various aspects of Helfgott's mental state through considering his relationship with his father and also through the eyes of his psychiatrist. The effects of institutionalization and his treatment are also considered. But unlike Shine, which takes the long journey and touches it up here and there, most of what you get here is a close up of a rehabilitated man whose behavior is nevertheless unusual. His speech is repetitive and the need for physical contact with Bragg and apparent strangers will make many people feel uncomfortable. I rather liked the way he runs onto the stage though! The documentary is well balanced and worth seeing if you are at all interested in what happens when potential genius and mental illness collide. One frustration that probably couldn't be avoided is the illustrative inter cutting of snippets of the pianist playing this and that and it was essential to couple it with some recital material. The works performed are Mendelssohn's Andante and Rondo Capriccioso, Liszt's Un sospiro and Hungarian Rhapsody No. 6, Beethoven's Appasionata and Korsakov's The Flight of the bumble bee is an encore. If you want to know more about David Helfott you will enjoy this DVD very much.

Helfgott polishes Shine.
Pit O'Maley | Alameda, Ca United States | 11/17/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"It is remarkable to see David Helfgott in person warts-and-all cast his spell and turn music critics into pointless insignifigance while playing inconsistently and unevenly as suggested. However, I think it is not lost on the audience the inner demons that tug at him as he expertly fingers the keyboard. It is so inspiring to see a genius once demolished rise from the ashes with brilliant finger flourishes in each selection. If he falters, momentarily, covering with improvisation it is inspiring too. This footage exceeded my expectations in unforeseen ways. I looked at David as I would an aging athlete that I had seen from his prime to his decline where you forgive the errors and replace them with early greatness. But in truth, David Helfgott is still in his prime.The music perfectionists may condemn his finger lapses on principle, but I hear something incredibly exciting in his style in concert performance that a brittle Horowitz, note and tempo precise, can not touch. Knowing how hard it is in one's lifetime to display one's greatness, it is totally joyous to see one so emotionally damaged display any measureful of dexturous genius. I could name several great athletes who were so close to the same genius level in their respective sports who tripped themselves up slightly, and walked away to never ascend again. Helfgott reminds us that it is not the heights we reach, but what we do with the time at hand. He seems to play with the intricacies like no other pianist I have seen. (I believe he could play the numbers with the backsides of his hands) This fortunate man plays with the classical greats as Shakespeare would an Olivier reading! I hope David lives long enough in the sunshine of audience applause to silence all his inner demons so that he sails through his recitals with unhampered genius once again."