Example Of “My Friend Is Not A Retard”. The Film By Steven Sawalich, “Music Within” Movie Review
“Music Within” is a 2007 drama by Steven Sawalich based on a true story of Richard Pimentel who devoted his life to fighting for the rights of the disabled. The movie depicts his way with all the difficulties as well as beautiful moments of friendship with Art, the man on whose example the audience can see the inequity of the society in all its directions.
The movie portrays mostly such types of disabilities as cerebral palsy (Art), tinnitus (Richard) and handicaps (the veteran Mike). They are different but the society’s fearful and negative attitude is the same to each of them. The movie demonstrates disability from different angles: on the one hand, the disabled person can be smarter and funnier than the average healthy one; on the other, this person is viewed by the society as some disgusting creature unworthy of even looking at – there is no place for pity, only anger, annoyance and aversion. The director aimed to create the atmosphere of the intolerant, unfair and sometimes mean society where people who are different have to suffer on a daily basis. So, in the movie, the disabled person is laughed at or just ignored; it is difficult for him to seize his opportunity to get education and find a job; he might have no friends.
Obviously, the director hints at the fact that the society’s attitude only adds another difficulty to a great amount of problems with health the disabled already has. One needs to have an enormous inner power and love for life to resist all the evil following him each minute of his existence. The suicides of the disabled used to be quite spread, and they are the extreme cases of what nasty jokes and indifference of the society can lead to. “Music Within” demonstrates the suicide of the veteran Mike who could not handle the environmental rejection as well as start a new life after the war and find his place in the society.
Analyzing the feature film, it is easy to guess that the theory which can be applied to the attitude towards the disabled is the Superiority theory. People with negative attitude to the weak are those who think they are better whether physically or mentally. The Superiority theory supposes the arrogant behavior and the abasement of human dignity. In “Music Within”, the audience sees the imperious behavior by Christine’s boyfriend, the waitress in the pancake house, random girls in the campus and many others. They all find appropriate to judge and humiliate the person they do not even know only by the way he looks. People of this type mock the weak but they are usually cowards in front of those who are stronger.
After watching carefully the movie, it is obvious that it depicts only the inequality related to the disabled while no gender, social, or racial discrimination is reflected upon. The director wanted to pay the most of the audience’s attention to the problem of the disabled so it was the only theme in the movie.
The society in the movie is mostly depicted from the negative point – the only exception is Christine. So the societal response to the individual with the disability always contains insults and sometimes it feels like accusation of the disability. The person behaves like he is annoyed and disgusted, and he is put out of humour just because he has seen the disabled. The person with special needs is treated like he is out of place and he needs to leave because he and the society are not cut from the same cloth.
As it can be inferred by the speech of the waitress in the pancake house, the societal response to the disability itself is their indignation about the disabled not dying at birth. The movie shows that ordinary people just don’t understand why the disabled consume additional space while they are useless and hopeless.
It is difficult to identify the exact audience the movie is targeting – it is for everyone. There is no limit in age: both children and adults will enjoy the movie. Those who empathize with the disabled will find the movie very interesting and authentic, those who don’t – will change their point of view for sure. Even the indifferent person will be touched by “Music Within” because when he looks inside of the world of these people, he will definitely change his attitude.
My final thought regarding “Music Within” is that the film is brilliant. I admire the profound approach to the topic and the way the director portrayed the disability. Thanks to the genius acting by Michael Sheen in the role of Art, I finally imagined what it is like to be locked up in your own body. It terrifies me to think that one may have bright or even genius brain which cannot control the body and make it obey. I like the fact that the director portrayed the disabled as completely mentally normal people who have a great sense of humor and an interesting stream of thought. When you watch them, you forget about their disabilities and perceive them more like particular qualities.
I think that “Music Within” is the type of movies which open eyes and broaden horizons. The audience finds out something new, namely the part of society it might have ignored or even hated. It definitely motivates and makes the audience believe that the good wins over the evil.
Erb, Robin (2008). U-M fans rave about new seats for disabled. Detroit Free Press.
Friess, Steven (2007). Disabled war veteran's activism forges onto film. USA Today.
Mandel, Susan (1990). Disabling the GOP. The National Review.
Statesman, Alison (2008). Lawsuits by the Disabled: Abuse of the System? TIME.
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