Mental illness as metaphor, yet againBMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7074.153 (Published 11 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:153
- Simon Wessely
- academic department of psychological medicine, King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London
Shine On general release
Shine is the apparently true story of David Helfgott, a child prodigy pianist whose career came to an abrupt halt when he developed a severe mental illness. After many years lost in the world of asylums, he was rescued by the love of a woman and is once again performing to ecstatic Australian audiences. Scott Hicks, previously known for his documentaries, has produced a feature film of Helfgott's life that has been wooing critics and audiences alike and-because it combines a difficult subject (mental illness), a great sound track (Rachmaninov), and a feel good ending-is apparently a “dead cert” for an Oscar.
I hated it.
Granted, the film is a tour de force in many respects. The casting is impressive- the film uses three actors to play David as a youth, adolescent, and adult, but you become aware of that only in the credits. It has two masterly emotional climaxes-the first when David produces a definitive Rachmaninov Third …