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Music of the Heart (Miramax Collector's Series)

4.7 out of 5 stars 259 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Two-time Academy Award(R)-winner Meryl Streep (1983 Best Actress, SOPHIE'S CHOICE; 1980 Best Supporting Actress, KRAMER vs. KRAMER) stars with Angela Bassett (HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK) in a heartwarming, acclaimed true story of how one woman's musical gift affected those who least expected it. A single mother with little more than talent and the determination to make a difference, Roberta Guaspari (Streep) overcame the skepticism of everyone who didn't think she should be teaching violin to students in a tough inner-city neighborhood. But even after a decade of ever-growing popularity and countless success stories, Roberta and her kids must rise to meet an even greater challenge: budget cuts aimed at shutting down her valuable program for good! Also starring Aidan Quinn (PRACTICAL MAGIC) and Grammy-winner Gloria Estefan in a stellar cast, this extraordinary story will inspire anyone who's ever thought their dreams were too far out of reach!


Why, you might ask, would Wes Craven direct a conventional biopic about Roberta Guaspari, a divorced mother of two who created an acclaimed music program in East Harlem's troubled school system? After all, Craven built his career on Freddy Krueger and the Scream trilogy, and you won't find razor-tipped gloves or a single drop of blood in Music of the Heart. All Craven has to do is provide a safe working environment for Meryl Streep (who earned an obligatory Oscar nomination), sublimate his deft directorial style, and surrender to the banalities of Pamela Gray's screenplay, which would've played more effectively on cable TV.

To be fair, Music of the Heart (partially inspired by the 1996 documentary Small Wonders) serves its purpose quite nicely. Streep is flawless in a non-showy role, and the story of Guaspari's celebrated violin training program provides the requisite rush of inner-city inspiration. As a fact-based companion to Mr. Holland's Opus, the film is less effective but similarly engaging; you'd have to be cold-hearted to dismiss it altogether. It's best when focusing on Guaspari's school program and the 10-year struggle to keep it alive; the drama falters when dealing half-heartedly with her tentative relationships, notably with a journalist (Aidan Quinn) who shies from commitment. And Craven? He seems content to direct by the numbers here, leaving inspiration on the screen while forfeiting his own. --Jeff Shannon

Special Features

  • Bonus second disk: Small Wonders (1996, 77 min.), the documentary film upon which Music of the Heart was based
  • Featurette: Behind the Scenes at Carnegie Hall: The Bach Double Concerto
  • Making-of featurette: Scoring Session: Behind the Scenes
  • Deleted footage with director's commentary
  • Musical Extras: Gloria Estefan and N'Sync Music of My Heart music video, scoring session behind the scenes, Background/Wisdom Soundbites with professional musicians, scenes with deleted score

Product Details

  • Actors: Meryl Streep, Cloris Leachman, Henry Dinhofer, Michael Angarano, Robert Ari
  • Directors: Allan Miller, Wes Craven
  • Writers: Pamela Gray
  • Producers: Allan Miller, Amy Slotnick, Bob Weinstein, Daniel K. Arredondo, Harvey Weinstein
  • Format: Collector's Edition, Color, Dolby, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: French, English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: Miramax
  • DVD Release Date: April 25, 2000
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (259 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00003CWUI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,134 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Music of the Heart (Miramax Collector's Series)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Matthew M. Yau on September 1, 2000
Format: DVD
Wes Craven, director of the Scream trilogy, shifts gear and releases "Music of My Heart" based on a true life story of a violin teacher in New York City. The incessant ovation of this movie has proved that shift of genre can be successful.
Roberta, mother of two boys, moved to New York City after her husband had left her for another woman who happened to a good friend of hers. Through connection of a friend, Roberta secured an interview with the principal of an elementary school in Harlem. Roberta was later offered a position as a substitute music teacher.
Due to meager supplies and budget, Roberta offered her own violins for students to practice. With much difficulty and challenge, Roberta founded a violin program for elementary school kids within the neighborhood. Roberta was met with immediate challenge like student discipline, low self-esteem, and opposition from parents. On one occasion, one of the kids' mother refused her son to take violin lesson because playing violin is considered a Whiteman's practice. Roberta's love for the kid has, however, won his mother over.
After almost 10 years as a non-contract substitute teacher, the school faced substantial oppression from the district about dismissing Robert due to budget. The community joined together, along with Roberta's two grown-up sons and prominent musicians to raise money to preserve the program.
"Music of My Heart" is a movie about love and perseverance. Meryl Streep plays a non-showy music teacher; yet through her persistance and self-denial, many students' lives are changed. A true inspiration.
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I just happened to be surfing the channels when I came upon this film. I stopped and watched it to see who was starring in it. When Meryl Streep appeared on the screen, I knew I had to stop and take notice. Well, I was blown away by the performances and the story. This is a perfect film to watch with your child, who is reluctantly taking musical instrument lessons. The dedication of this woman to teach music to children as well as teach them how to apply themselves to whatever their dreams might be, was overwhelming! I highly recommend this as a film to reach and teach the unreachable.

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This heartwarming film taken from actual events is brought to life by the marvelous Meryl Streep. It is sentimental to be sure, but also an inspiration and a reminder not to give up on kids. Once exposed to the arts and finding a sense of accomplishment in their success, children will carry this over into other areas of life as well. It is a message that is at once good, and true. It is brought nicely to the forefront in this very underrated Wes Craven film that boasts a terrific cast and an uplifting story of hope.

Meryl Streep is Roberta Guaspari, given a chance to teach violin to some kids in East Harlem, New York, by principal Janet Williams (Angela Bassett). Roberta is a single mother with two boys of her own. She initially has to provide the instruments for the children herself. Though some of the parents can't see how playing the violin will be of any use to their children, she pushes forward with a little encouragement from teachers like Isabel Vasquez (Gloria Estefan) and the response of her students.

She is demanding of her pupils, which rubs both them and their parents the wrong way at first. But as time goes on and she adjusts to them and they begin to know her, the program takes on a life of its own, giving the kids a sense of accomplishment and the ability to dream of something better in their lives. As the years pass the program becomes well known and is a shining point to a school system that is not always equipped to deal with the number of children as compared to the number of good teachers.

Roberta's boyfriend Brian (Aidan Quinn) can not see Roberta's true worth and she finally lets the relationship drop and concentrates on her kids.
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MUSIC OF THE HEART, the story of violin teacher Roberta Guaspari and her fight to save a music program in East Harlem's school system, is based loosely on the 1996 documentary SMALL WONDERS. Ms. Guaspari believed, as did her principal Janet Williams, that studying music and art, in this instance the violin, teaches children discipline and provides them with a sense of self-worth and that the arts should not be treated as frills but rather an integral part of a child's edcuation.

Meryl Streep, nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Ms. Guaspari, is as always magnificent. She favors the instructor a little; but more importantly, she takes on her walk and speech patterns so as to actually become her. While Cloris Leachman, Angela Bassett and Aidan Quinn give respectable performances, the movie belongs to Ms. Streep.

The film adds new material not seen in the documentary; some of it works better than others. The relationship between Quinn and Streep-- she and her two young sons have been deserted by her husband-- could have been left out entirely without much having been lost. On the other hand, the death of a student from a drive-by shooting and the child who has to leave Streep's class and move away because her father is abusing her mother, while fictional-- at least they are not in the documentary-- add touches of necessary realism and keep the movie from becoming one-sided.

The highlight of both this movie and the documentary [included in the DVD version and is not to be missed] is the concert at Carnegie Hall by the students, along with some of the great violinists of the world, to raise money to keep the violin classes continuing.
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