.. blique angle (completely perpendicular) in order to reveal David’s perspective through his eyes. Mise en scene also can be used as an effective method of foreshadowing. When David goes to the mailbox and receives the letter inviting him to America, he is caged in the foreground by the fence as the family house ominously fills the background. Low, somber classical music plays quietly, further reinforcing the reaction he will get from the letter.
Another example of layered frame construction is the first scene in which the audience sees David at the college in America. Two professors discuss David’s possible talent as he flounders around after scattering papers far beneath them, separated not only by the distance but by the pane of windowglass as well. Since he is several stories beneath them, David is shot at an extremely high angle, making the disparaging and doubtful remarks the first professor says about David all the more possible. The very next shot has David standing above his peers on a stairway as they call up to him, reversing the situation. The professors might have been superior to David (at least at that particular moment), but he was far more advanced than any of his contemporaries.
During the scene cementing Mr. Helfgott’s admonition to disown David for leaving home he burns the newspaper clippings he’d saved about the boy. This is one of the few extreme-close ups in the film, and is repeated later when the same photograph is reprinted in another paper and Mr. Helfgott sees it, deciding then to make amends. David gave the same picture of himself to Katherine, his mentor, and receives it again in the mail upon her death. The photograph serves as a connecting device and as a reminder of the young man David once was, before stress set in and destroyed his love and passion. The young David is associated with the sound motif of the piano and the applauding audiences he played before, while the adult David mostly is introduced by the melancholy sound of rain against a windowpane.
At the film’s conclusion he is again able to hear the music as he once did, and he is fairly healed. A piano, a violin, applause, and the voice of an announcer melt together in a sound montage that creates tension as David, his father, and his instructor await the decision on the National Champion. The sound is very loud and powerful during scenes of change or major development, and understated in more stagnant scenes or those dependent on audible dialogue. However, the political standpoint of the film, or its ideology, is not quite so clear. Hicks directed the film to be of implicit nature, wherein the protagonist and antagonist represent opposing value systems. David’s father is obviously a rightist in his beliefs, since he places worth in religion, custom, competition, and, above all else, family.
While David believes in competition, he is not so set in religion and custom (he lives for an amount of time in a Christian church, while he himself is Jewish), he places the individual over the family. In search of his own fortune, David leaves after expressly being told not to. This one difference is strong enough to tear the family apart and create a conflict around which the story can revolve. The irony of the situation is that, while trying desperately to preserve his family, David’s father actually succeeds in alienating his son and putting undue stress on his relationships with the other family members. The music he counted on to bring David and himself together also split them apart.
Until his breakdown, David had all but adopted the old professor as his father because he understood David well and was kind to him. The literary aspect of this film comes not from the fact that it was adapted from a novel (since it was not), but from its strong basis in the literary convention. For example, the motifs of rain and applause are a common technique of literature, as is the shifting point of view. The story is told from first a third-person limited perspective, then goes into personal flashbacks from David’s memory, and the remainder of the film switches back and forth between the two. Also, the film is rife with imagery and symbolism, both of which are favourite literary devices.
Such symbols can be interpreted from the viewpoint of the theories of Structuralism and Semiology. Water is the most obvious of these symbols, and traditionally means cleansing, rebirth, and calmness. However, rain means bad weather and difficulties, and dirtied water (such as that in the bath) is poison. Just before David’s first adult recital, all of his pages float in clear blue pool water as clouds drift by above them. This is finally the foreshadowing of a rebirth. While not a universal symbol, the glasses signal David’s dependency on things outside himself. Such things eventually destroy him, since he is not able to break through the multitude of walls and fences that fill the screen and live for himself. A lion appears twice, first when David describes his father to Katherine and later when he awakens at the base of a huge sculpture of one.
Lions are typically strong and powerful, the king of all they survey. The fact that David wakes up with one behind him foreshadows his father’s return and his support of his son. The medal won for the recital of Rack III and the composition itself both become symbols of the father that was so bent on having his child son play the impossible piece. The fact that David chose that as his premiere work told of both his lasting devotion to his father and his determination to please. When Mr.
Helfgott returned the medal he was recognising the accomplishment and forgiving his disowned son at once. The closing shot is one of David and his wife as they leave his father’s grave and the cemetery, the camera pulling back on a crane as the two become lost in the vast stretch. No longer is the audience involved; the story is over. The main themes of this film- complications, deterioration, and loss- are expertly portrayed through the harmony of all divisions of filmmaking. Both Hicks and Rush are excellent, and, despite herself, this eclectic critic enjoyed the film.