Shine: The Rach 3
Shine (Scott Hicks, 1996) profiles the formative years of the acclaimed pianist David Helfgott – a child musical prodigy who struggled with mental health.
As with other local productions such as The Piano (Jane Campion, 1993), the instrument in this film is a central narrative feature – conveying the inner world of David, his psychosis and his normalcy.
Much of the character development occurs through the film’s introduction of different pieces of classical music, which coincide with new stages in David’s life.
In this clip, featuring Noah Taylor as Helfgott and John Gielgud as his teacher in the Royal College of Music in London, we encounter Sergei Rachmaninoff's 'Piano Concerto No. 3', widely considered one of the most demanding and complicated piano pieces ever written. The 'Rach 3' functions as a leitmotiv for the genius in Helfgott’s playing – the piece is his most intimate friend.
The sequence is also a prime example of the way that Scott Hicks (with editor Pip Karmel) is able to build excitement and dramatic tension through the musical sections of the film.
The music – which rises in volume and intensity – plays over a montage of images which at times synchronises with shots of Helfgott playing the instrument, but also helps to achieve a sense of time passing.
These sequences also set up key elements of the film such as helping the audience to feel the height of the mountain he’s trying to climb now he's arrived at the Royal College of Music.