Thursday, May 22, 2008

"Young@Heart" -- A Must See

This movie won't change the world -- but it will make you smile, bring a tear to your eye and give you a greater appreciation for both the strength and frailty of life in its last days.

"Young@Heart" is a documentary film that follows the Young@Heart chorus as they prepare to add new songs to their repertoire. The choristers are all senior citizens, ranging in age from 74 to 92. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir they are not, but the level of commitment (and soul) they bring to their efforts more than compensates for any lack of talent or the shakiness of tone that comes with age.

What's most interesting about the Young@Heart Chorus is the sort of songs they do. Their set list includes songs by Prince, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Sonic Youth, The Ramones and Coldplay. It may sound like an odd fit, but many of the songs take on new and wonderful depths of meaning when you hear them sung by people who know they have only a little time left. "Golden Years" and "Stayin' Alive" have a completely different sort of resonance when these folks sing them. Their performance of Dylan's "Forever Young" at a prison had tears rolling down my cheeks.

The most beautiful and moving aspect of the film is how, in the face of infirmity and death, these 18 or so septugenarians, octogenarians (and one nonegenarian)just keep pressing on, living in the moment, making music and bringing happiness and pleasure to those who hear them. It's likely the most inspiring film I've seen in years. Do yourself a favor and go. Tonight.

(NOTE: the video link above is of the chorus singing Coldplay's "Fix You." The featured singer is a man with congestive heart disease, a former member of the chorus who returned to the stage for one night only. The puffing sound you hear at the beginning is his oxygen delivery system.)

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