“Playing music is supposed to be fun. It’s about heart, it’s about feelings, moving people, and something beautiful, and it’s not about notes on a page. I can teach you notes on a page, I can’t teach you that other stuff.” – Glenn Holland
I absolutely and thoroughly loved this movie. I cry every single time I watch it. In the same places.
The word opus simply means work. From the Latin oper-, from which we get the English word operate. When we think of the English word operate, we think, often, of the use of heavy machinery or of a set of surgical tools used by a skilled physician.
I was reflecting with a friend a week or so ago about this film. Sure, it’s about a guy who (spoiler alert!) takes a ‘fall-back’ position as a teacher so he can compose in his ‘free time’ his great masterpiece. But he gains so much more…
But it’s also, as I ponder about it more, the pure and unadulterated Gospel. The main character and his wife end up having a child (Cole). The child, as it turns out, was born deaf. This is extremely painful for a man with such a passionate love of music to endure – but he also loves his son. He painstakingly (although, unlike God) makes all sorts of mistakes as he tries to reach out to his son, even to the point (at times) of ignoring the real problem. He does not want to understand his son, but rather wants his son to understand his world, his needs, his passions.
The beauty of the story is that, upon learning that Cole is deaf, the father (Mr. Holland) is so despondent and heartbroken. That something so beautiful is as it was not meant to be. The end of the story between Cole and Holland is when Holland truly demonstrates to the community and to Cole how much he loves Cole by meeting Cole on his terms – in his world – and truly and finally, delighting in his son, just as God delights in us.
Sure, the movie ends with a bunch of prior students thanking Holland for his contribution into their lives, but his greatest work is not them; it’s not even the symphony he wrote over 30 years. It is his relationship, a healed relationship, with his son.