“Shine” is a wonderful movie conveying the true story of a talented pianist; David Halfgott, whose career as a pianist was cut short due to a psychotic disorder – schizophrenia. As far as the movie is about the talent David possessed; it is also as much a portrayal of a control-freak father who is always expecting the best from his son, sometimes resulting in abuse.


Relationship – Father

The dynamics of relationship between David and his father, Peter is very interesting. Firstly, Peter is a father who takes plenty of pride and credit of his son’s musical talent but when a local pianist called Ben Rosen, offered to take David under his tutelage, Peter was very reluctant to let go of David. It was later revealed in the movie that Peter bought a violin when he was David’s age, but his father “smashed” it. It is seen that Peter is currently living off his musical dream through his son; David, which is why it is so hard for him to let David go, especially the fact that he personally trained David this far.

Fortunately for Peter, David is naturally talented in piano; he is not afraid to tackle difficult pieces and is a fairly obedient boy. Even when his father drove away his friend by shouting “tell your friends not to come!” when he was practicing piano, David did not utter a single complain. However, the peaceful relationship turned a little rocky when Peter refused to allow David to go to the America to study, settling the argument that he will “destroy the family” by doing so. David helplessly accepted the situation.

The rocky relationship peaked when David was offered a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London, and again, the father forbids him to go. This time, David retaliated and was determined to go, which resulted Peter to beat his son repeatedly, showing his tyrant side. Peter went off anyhow.

ImagePersonal Achievement

At London, David manages to achieve what he intended by winning a Concerto competition. He chose to play Rachmaninoff’s difficult 3rd Concerto, a piece he had sought to learn as a young child to make his father proud. The movie depicted David collapsing at the end of his masterful performance. This in my opinion is a symbolic scene, introducing David’s psychological breakdown which will hunt him for his remaining of his life.


Mental Illness

From a psychological point of view, David appears to suffer from disorganized speech whereby he would mutters mostly irrelevant gibberish as well as catatonic behaviors. However, the movie portrays David gradual return to his pianist career after winning some hearts in Australia, and even ended up a married man.

In conclusion, the profound impact of this movie was the portrayal of a talented boy who plays the piano as much for himself and also his father. In my opinion, the symbolic moment when he collapsed was a breaking point whereby he had already achieved greatness but even so, his father still refused to talk to him. His success is no longer a shared success of him and his father in which we know has already been that. Fortunately, his father Peter ultimately forgave him when he found out about David’s mental illness.

This teaches me the lesson of appreciating people before it is too late, and learn to have a bigger heart, even at times people might offend you.


Strictly Ballroom

Image“Strictly Ballroom” tells the story of an Australian Ballroom dancer; Scott Hastings, and his struggle to establish his personal style of dance in his way in order to win the Pan-Pacific Grand Prix Dance Championship. Throughout the movie we have seen the struggles that Scott faces involving family, love and his passion for dance.

ImageStatus versus Power

The classic example of a Cinderella story is strongly being portrayed in this movie by Fran. At the beginning of the movie, she is being perceived as a beginner dancer, unattractive, clumsy and unnoticeable by others. However, as the movie continues, we can see her transformation not only physically but as well as her dance skills.

The influence of the Dance Championship is done through coercive power which suppresses freewill. Initially Scott was reluctant to dance with Fran because he was influenced by his upbringing of the competitive dance world whereby beginners are no match to amateur dancers, however, through time spent and first hand encounter with Fran’s culture, he learnt that there true meaning of dance.

It is obviously shown in the film that there is a strong dispute by Scott’s parents of Fran dancing with Scott as she is a beginner while he is an Amateur. The parents soon learnt that Fran brings out the best of Scott, complimenting each other while they dance as Fran is submissive and Scott is dominant.


Success versus passion

Dance revolves around the freedom to express. This becomes obvious when Scott is being laughed at by Fran’s family when he is performing his own understanding and perception of a Paso Doble, which is restricted and fixed in steps. Scott later found out that there is more to just doing steps fixed by the association and there are more dance.  At the end of the movie, it is clearly shown that Scott struggles between having to win the Pan Pacific Grand Prix for his family or his passion and love for not just the dance but also towards Fran. In my opinion, the reason why the directors choose the dance Paso Doble to portray strongly in this movie is its origins of being a strong dance. Paso Doble is the dance of the matador with its cape fighting to challenge the bull; it shows a strong connection between both the matador (male) with its cape (female) performing flawlessly to defect the bull (parents/rules). Hence, in comparison to other dances such as the Cha Cha, Rumba, Samba, etc, the Paso Doble illustrates more personality and indirectly shows the battle between his family’s success versus his.

 In summary, this movie has really captured my attention in many ways. The battle between Scott’s family interest versus his has shown that there is more to just living under a rules and control. Scott’s decision to fulfill his own dreams has many people realize that they should not live for other people, but themselves. “Strictly Ballroom” as a movie title is truly an oxy moron, it explains the whole movie as being Strictly-Control, Ballroom – Dance. Dance is suppose to be free and expressive so why should it be restricted? 

 “Dance to express, not to impress” 

Cry Freedom


The movie “Cry Freedom” focuses on the friendship between a white liberal South African editor, Donald Woods and an idealistic young black leader, Steve Biko, who later dies due to hunger strike at the hands of the South African police.

Woods, initially labeled Biko as a “black racist”, changes his views after a personal approach with Biko. Even though he has family commitments, Woods took the challenge to fight against apartheid together with his trusted friend, Gusto and goes through great lenth to promote Biko’s view of equality among the Black and White populations of South Africa.


Relationship – Biko & Woods

The relationship between Biko and Woods started through an emissary, whom arranged the meeting between the both of them. Due to the fact that Biko was banned, he is only able to meet one person at a time in the same room. Aside from most Whites in South Africa, Woods is one of those who approach this racial issue with openness and acceptance. Although Woods may have a hidden agenda for the meeting at first (story to write for his newspaper to gain more readers), but through his experience in the African “township”, his perspective has changed.

Biko and Woods shares a true friendship, even though they are not allowed to be seen in public. Both of them seem to have managed keeping in contact, either via telephone or through emissaries, their friendship is a learning curve for both parties, creating understanding and trust.

The incident that triggered the Woods’ change of heart is the gradual experience that he is exposed to, seeing the lives of the blacks living in the townships first hand, something which the few whites Africans have done.

Although in the movie, Biko played with quiet power, he is seen primarily through the eyes of Woods, admired and respected by many.


Relationship – Family

Both Biko and Woods are fortunate to have such supportive families. Although there may be some ups and downs in Woods family, facing the contemplation of the family’s safely or the lives of the many black Africans, Woods manages his family with love, respect and understanding. The fact that the movie focuses on Woods family moving from their home to another state, I was surprised that the kids were understanding and clever to speak only when needed.

The scene where Mrs Woods registered hers and her children’s name at the immigration triggered my emotions, wondering if the children are going to speak aloud that their name or birth date weren’t their real ones, which might cause the plan if the officers find out. Thank god it was in the 80s whereby the security were not as tight as currently, the family was easily released without having much trouble.

Aside from Biko’s wife and son, Biko has many trusted friends that he has rather much consider them as family. He is fortunate to have many people that truly respect him, that will sacrifice their life for his protection. Biko’s stand against apartheid has truly created a strong unity between all the blacks.


Generally, watching injustices such as the apartheid that occurred in South Africa, gets conscious about the world around me. The focus of the movie was leading towards Woods instead of the Biko. When Biko dies, the rest of the story centers on Woods, I was hoping to be able to understand Biko’s life and plan better. However, overall the movie has successful captured many of my emotions, such as afraid, sympathy, worry, happy and others. The movie ended into a cliff-hanger when Woods flew out to the mountains to share Biko’s story to the World and some of these questions continues to stir in my heart, 1) How does the Whites dominate South Africa when 70% of the Africans are Blacks? 2) At the end of the movie, it shows that Woods’ maid, Evelyn knew that the family was leaving, therefore she was reluctant to take a look at Mrs Woods when she said goodbye. But why did the maid told the dog that something was wrong when she checked the cupboard at the end? Was it for the recording of the polices or she was really confused?