Mr. Holland's Opus
|Mr. Holland's Opus|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Stephen Herek|
|Produced by||Ted Field
Robert W. Cort
Patrick Sheane Duncan
|Written by||Patrick Sheane Duncan|
|Music by||Michael Kamen|
|Edited by||Trudy Ship|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
Mr. Holland's Opus is a 1995 American drama film directed by Stephen Herek, produced by Ted Field, Robert W. Cort, and Michael Nolin, and written by Patrick Sheane Duncan. The film stars Richard Dreyfuss in the title role of Glenn Holland, a high-school music teacher who aspires to write his own composition. The cast also includes Glenne Headly, Olympia Dukakis, William H. Macy, and Jay Thomas.
The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay. Richard Dreyfuss also received nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama and the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in the film.
In Portland, Oregon in 1965, Glenn Holland is a talented musician and composer who has been relatively successful in the exhausting life of a professional musical performer. However, in an attempt to enjoy more free time with his young wife, Iris, and to enable him to compose a piece of orchestral music, the 30-year-old Holland accepts a teaching position at John F. Kennedy High School.
Unfortunately for Holland, he is soon forced to realize that his position as a music teacher makes him a marginalized figure in the faculty's hierarchy. Many of his colleagues, and some in Kennedy High's administration, including the school's principal Helen Jacobs and vice principal Gene Wolters, resent Holland and question the value and importance of music education given the school's strained budget. However, he quickly begins to win many of his colleagues over. Holland finds success using rock and roll as a way to make classical music more accessible to his students.
Holland's lack of quality time with Iris becomes problematic when their son, Cole, is diagnosed as deaf. Holland reacts with hostility to the news that he can never teach the joys of music to his own child. Iris willingly learns American Sign Language to communicate with her son, but Holland resists. This causes further estrangement within the family.
Over three decades, Holland is closer to students at Kennedy High than he is to his own son. He addresses a series of challenges created by people who are either hesitant or hostile towards the concept of musical excellence within the walls of the average middle-class American high school. He inspires numerous students, but never has private time for himself or his family, delaying the composition of his own orchestral composition. Eventually, he reaches an age when it is too late to realistically find financial backing or ever have it performed.
In 1995, the adversaries of the Kennedy High music program win a decisive institutional victory. Wolters, now promoted as principal, works with the board of education to eliminate funding for music along with other fine arts programs, thus leading to Holland's early retirement. Holland realizes that his career in music is likely over, thinking that his former students have mostly forgotten him and is dejected at his failure to ever have his composition, which he views as his life's work, performed.
On his final day as a teacher, Holland enters the school auditorium, where his professional life is surprisingly redeemed. Hearing that their beloved teacher is retiring, hundreds of his former students have secretly returned to the school to celebrate his life.
Holland's orchestral piece, never before heard in public, has been put before the musicians by his wife and son. One of his most musically challenged students, Gertrude Lang, who has become Governor of Oregon, sits in with her clarinet. Gertrude and the other alumni request their former teacher serve as their conductor for the premiere performance of Mr. Holland's Opus ("The American Symphony"). A proud Iris and Cole look on, appreciating the affection and respect that Holland receives.
- Richard Dreyfuss as Glenn Holland
- Glenne Headly as Iris Holland
- Jay Thomas as Bill Meister
- Olympia Dukakis as Principal Helen Jacobs
- William H. Macy as Vice Principal (later Principal) Gene Wolters
- Alicia Witt as young Gertrude Lang
- Joanna Gleason as older Governor Gertrude Lang
- Terrence Howard as Louis Russ
- Damon Whitaker as Bobby Tidd
- Jean Louisa Kelly as Rowena Morgan
- Alexandra Boyd as Sarah Olmstead
- Nicholas John Renner as Coltrane "Cole" Holland (age 6)
- Joseph Anderson as Coltrane "Cole" Holland (age 15)
- Anthony Natale as Coltrane "Cole" Holland (age 28)
- Beth Maitland as Deaf School Principal
- Balthazar Getty as Stadler
The movie was written by Patrick Sheane Duncan, directed by Stephen Herek, and was filmed in and around Portland, Oregon, with many exterior and interior scenes taking place at Ulysses S. Grant High School.
Archive footage seen in the film includes:
- Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech
- Robert and John F. Kennedy
- Vietnam War
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show
- Saturday Night Fever
- Stop Making Sense
- Death of John Lennon
- Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park
The film features an orchestral score by Michael Kamen and many pieces of classical music. Kamen also wrote An American Symphony ("Mr. Holland's Opus"), the work on which Mr. Holland is shown working throughout the movie. Kamen's arrangement won the 1997 Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement.
Two soundtrack albums were released for this film in January 1996. One is the original motion picture score, and includes all of the original music written for the film by Michael Kamen. The second album is a collection of popular music featured in the film:
- "Visions of a Sunset" – Shawn Stockman (of Boyz II Men)
- "1-2-3" – Len Barry
- "A Lover's Concerto" – The Toys
- "Keep On Running" – Spencer Davis Group
- "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" – Stevie Wonder
- "Imagine" – John Lennon
- "The Pretender" – Jackson Browne
- "Someone to Watch Over Me" – Julia Fordham
- "I Got a Woman" – Ray Charles
- "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" – John Lennon
- "Cole's Song" – Julian Lennon and Tim Renwick
- An American Symphony ("Mr. Holland's Opus") – London Metropolitan Orchestra and Michael Kamen
In the United States, gross domestic takings totaled US$82,569,971. International takings are estimated at US$23,700,000, for a gross worldwide takings of $106,269,971. Rental totals reached $36,550,000 in the US. Although the film is included among 1995 box-office releases (it ranks as the 14th-most successful film of that year), it was only released in a few theatres in New York and Los Angeles on December 29, 1995, because Disney felt, accurately, that Richard Dreyfuss' performance had a good chance of getting an Oscar nomination if it beat that year's in-theatre deadline.
Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 74% Fresh rating. CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a rare "A+" grade. Writer Patrick Sheane Duncan was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay at the 53rd Golden Globe Awards. Dreyfuss was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama.
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation
- "Mr. Holland's Opus - PowerGrid". thewrap.com. Retrieved May 21, 2016.
- "Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)". The New York Times.
- Mr. Holland's Opus at the Internet Movie Database
- "Field Marshal". Newsweek. Retrieved 2010-12-22.
- Mr. Holland's Opus at Rotten Tomatoes
- "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-14.
- Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation
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