“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.


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