MUSIC OF THE HEART
Release Date: October 29, 1999
Starring: Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn,
Angela Bassett, Gloria
Estefan, Jane Leeves, Keiran
Culkin, & Jay O. Sanders
Runtime: 134 Minutes
Distributor: Miramax Films
Director: Wes Craven
Producer: Marianne Maddalena, Walter
Scheuer, Allan Miller, & Susan
Writer: Pamela Gray
Address Comments To:
MUSIC OF THE HEART is based on the inspirational true story of music teacher Roberta Guaspari. Craven, a former college professor, turned director, has always had a passion for classical music. After approaching Meryl Streep about participating in this project, she simply stated, "This woman's story needs to be told.... It's going to be good!"
Roberta Guaspari's life has been torn apart. Her naval husband has left her and their children for a woman she believed to be a close family friend. Moving in with her mother, she has faith that her husband will return. Her life has been perpetually on the move between naval postings. Her musical career in violin never rooted itself to give her credible references, nor the confidence to pursue her own dreams, although she did train her sons (Kieran Culkin and Jay O. Sanders) in the rigors and discipline of violin.
Her mother shakes her world, challenging Roberta to get a life and a job. Introduced to an east inner city Harlem elementary school principal by a former high school friend, Brian (Aidan Quinn), turned romantic interest, she applies for a job. The principal recognizes her passion for a musical program, but notes her lack of career experience and that the school board would not approve funding. Roberta returns to the school the next day with her two boys to perform a spontaneous concert for the principal.
Roberta is then given a substitute teaching position. Utilizing 50 of her own violins, which she had acquired while stationed in Greece, she starts to train these underprivileged and undisciplined children in the study of violin. Attracted to her candid and strong teaching techniques, the children slowly gain respect for her. They recognize that Roberta believes in them and their abilities. The students, who were thought to have little musical concentration or ability, take their teacher's instruction to heart and prove both parents and the school board wrong.
At the advent of her teaching career in Harlem, Roberta begins to feel that she is having no impact on anyone's life. Her personal world is falling apart. Her husband wants a divorce, her children are getting out of control because they can sense her confusion and her relationship with Brian is floundering. The life of a solitary student, however, brings her back to reality and gives her life focus and purpose. This little girl with physical disabilities demonstrates to Roberta that, even when your own world seems to be falling apart, you cannot give up. It is here that Roberta places the needs of her families and her students ahead of her own, recognizing that their needs are a priority over her selfish emotional desires.
MUSIC OF THE HEART will captivate the soul of both young and old. It demonstrates the influence that individuals can have on children's lives. In fact, more than 1600 youths have been trained through Roberta's programs over the past 16 years. This is a story of persevering when your world is crumbling, of family sticking beside one another, and fighting back when the establishment tells you that your plans are over. It is a story of getting community support and believing in what you are attempting to accomplish in the lives of children. Finally, it is an inspirational story of regaining one's own self-worth by accomplishing personal dreams lost so long ago and by helping other people. As Roberta Guaspari herself said," I have not taught the children how to play music, I have taught them to live life - with discipline." If moral Americans wholeheartedly support this movie, perhaps Mr. Craven will begin to turn away from the kinds of horror movies he has been making throughout his career.