Alive Inside Blu-ray Review
What is your favorite song? This is a question asked of many of the subjects in the new film ALIVE INSIDE. I’m sure we all have a couple. Some of mine include “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder, “The Long and Winding Road” by the Beatles and “Mainstreet” by Bob Seger. These songs have resonated in my life since the first time I heard them and they hold special memories for me. That premise is also held by Dan Cohen, a man who many years ago realized that the music of our lives is more important to us than you may think. Cohen, who worked many years in the caretaking business, was especially interested in the people who he worked with that suffered from extreme cases of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Could listening to music from their past put a smile of joy and a look of knowing on their blank faces?
A film that will often move you to tears, ALIVE INSIDE is one of the most heartfelt films I’ve seen in years. When we meet 94 year old Henry we’re told that he has been almost silent and motionless for over a decade. When his daughter visits him she does her best to hold his hands and talk with him but the conversation is mostly one way. We learn that Henry was once a huge fan of music and could sing gospel with the best of them. With the daughter’s permission, Cohen fills an iPod with what would have been the music of Henry’s youth and puts a set of earphones on his head. After a few moments Henry smiles. Then he begins rocking his head back and forth. THEN HE BEGINS SINGING ALONG! (cue the tears). To see the pure joy on his face and hear it in his voice as he sings is to almost witness a miracle. And it is not only the mind that is temporarily rejuvenated. One man plays Beatle songs to his long silent wife only to see her perk up at the first chords of “Blackbird.” Soon they are going for walks again, listening to the songs and strolling to the music.
While some health care advocates supported this experiment it still was not readily accepted. Not only because of skepticism but of the cost. But when a short video of Henry is posted on-line, earning MILLIONS of hits, the expense question is answered. Strangers from all over the world begin getting together locally, finding out the best way to have iPods, headphones, etc. donated to the facilities. Most heartwarming is that many of these people are young people. Music has no age limit and young as well as old can easily understand the impact music has in life. So again I ask, what is your favorite song? As important as it is to you now imagine the impact it may have on you when you hear it many, many years from now. To find out more about Dan Cohen’s “Music and Memory” project, and maybe find a good home for your old iPod, head to http://musicandmemory.org/
Video: Presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio, the film is sharp and clear. Some of the interiors are muted but that could be because most of them take place in nursing facilities, which tend to be a little more subdued.
Audio: Presented in both DTS-HD 5.1 and LPCM 2.0, the sound is well mixed. No overlapping of original score when the source music is being played.
Director’s Commentary: director Michael Rossato-Bennett takes viewers through a very by the book commentary.
Deleted Scenes (35:28): More interviews/testimonials about the project and its effects. Nothing missed.
Ask Dan Cohen (13:36): An excellent conversation with Music & Memory organization founder Dan Cohen.
Michael Rossato-Bennett Interview (19:00): a more direct conversation with the film’s director.
“Alive Inside” Soundtrack (30:44): Original music written for the film by Itaal Shur. Very pleasant score that doesn’t override the film’s message.