This is a documentary film about the use music therapy with elderly nursing home patients. Apparently when the patients who are other wise borderline catatonic hear music from their youth they open up, talk, dance and sing. The film follows one man who wants to implement music therapy programs in all 1600 nursing homes in the United States. Clearly he has a lofty goal but one that could be achieved.
Its difficult to separate a documentary films subjects from its makers but I feel like you must do it with Alive Inside. The subject matter is heart warming, saddening, frustrating and strikingly urgent but the heavy handed approach of the filmmakers is distracting and shows a lack of faith in his subject. With that being said the subject is powerful enough to transcend its execution. When you are discussing dementia and alzheimer's have faith the viewer can understand you're point without having trippy slow-motion shots of grandma looking confused and scared. These moments are minimal but they do a disservice to the overall quality of the film and undercut its important message.
The idea of music therapy is a controversial one but clearly its an area that could use further research and funding. The most interesting part of the film is when it goes into the history of nursing homes. When we introduced the New Deal, Social Security and Medicade the nursing homes moved from spaces that were designed to emulate homes to spaces that were designed to emulate hospitals.
Pardon me while I get on my soapbox
We don't age well in this country I'm an American so I assume that everyone who reads this is American, we are a myopic bunch of pricks. The elderly are rarely treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. If some Big Band jams can bring the near catatonic out of their internal prisons, fund it, fund it now. I want someone to bring me a Black Flag tape when I'm 89 and I want that 20 year old orderly handing me my iPod to think my music is old fashion and silly. I hope that moment exists.
I'm a selfish American and I believe in taking care of our older citizen's. Not because I'm altruistic but because I want the systems to be in place for me when I get old. I don't believe that doing the right thing is necessarily a selfless act. Just try to remember that you will one day be old too. How do want to be treated? If you have a relative in a nursing home, even if you like them, make sure they are being treated well. Looking out for elderly is the least we can do to say thank you.