Who Needs Your Music?

I watched The Shawshank Redemption recently. I’ve seen it a few times over the years, but it has probably been a couple of years since I last saw it. One of the tests of a picture’s greatness is how it ages over time. When you initially see a movie that impresses you, there are certain scenes that catch your eye. When you watch that movie again a few years later, those scenes may still be special or you might find yourself thinking, “What did I see in this movie before?”

Now the movie hasn’t changed; what has changed is its effect on you. And that changed because you did. You don’t see the picture through the same eyes that you originally did. For example, we’ve all experienced the phenomenon of watching a movie with friends that you thought was great and later when you watched it by yourself you realize it wasn’t — it was the experience of watching it with friends that was great. Or, our son went through a phase in his early teens when he liked the Ernest movies. Suffice it to say he doesn’t look at them the same way now (for which we are all grateful). Anyway, if this kind of thing happens when you re-watch a movie, that’s a sure sign it’s not a great film.

A great movie transcends little things like time and place so the moments you remember as standing out continue to do so despite the changes in your life. One of the scenes that does that for me is when Andy has finally received some books and records for the prison library. He puts Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro on the turntable. He’s so overcome by the music that he locks himself in the room. Then he turns on the prison PA system and broadcasts the music throughout the prison. The inmates are mesmerized by what they hear. They not only stop what they’re doing — they stand absolutely motionless. It’s a surreal moment in an otherwise straight prison flick, but it works.

Red (Andy’s best friend and the narrator), says:

I have no idea to this day what them two Italian ladies were singin’ about. Truth is, I don’t want to know. Some things are best left unsaid. I like to think they were singin’ about something so beautiful it can’t be expreessed in words, and makes your heart ache because of it.

I tell you, those voices soared. Higher and farther than anybody in a gray place dares to dream. It was like some beautiful bird flapped into our drab little cage and made those walls dissolve away . . . and for the briefest of moments — every last man at Shawshank felt free.

You can see the scene here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7XWxnacs0Y

I love this scene for the place it has in the movie, but also for what it says about music. Music is this wonderful gift God has given us that is mysterious, beautiful, and capable of making our spirits soar. David’s music brought comfort to Saul (I Samuel 16:14-23). After being beaten, and put into prison with their feet in stocks, Paul and Silas sang hymns — and the other prisoners listened (Acts 16:22-25).

It’s hard to put your finger on exactly why it is such a powerful force, but in the end what difference does it make? Our lives are richer because of it. Andy Dufresne understood this and spent two weeks in solitary in order to give the gift to his friends.

Who needs your music?

At the Movies



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