Monday, February 8, 2016

In 'Alive Inside,' music breaks through the fog of dementia

0 comments
In "Alive Inside," music unlocks worlds of those with dementia.
In "Alive Inside," music unlocks worlds of those with dementia.
About the movie
Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory
Genre:
Documentary
MPAA rating:
Unrated
Running time:
01:14
Release date:
2014
Rating:
Cast:
Dan Cohen
Directed by:
Michael Rossato-Bennett

Alive Inside is a small but vibrant miracle. The documentary finds hope and joy in one of our nation's bleakest settings, nursing homes.

Three years in the making, it follows the determination of social worker Dan Cohen to disseminate a remarkable finding: Listening to music that has some personal resonance can liberate and locate people lost in the fog of Alzheimer's and dementia.

You see an example of the Lazarus experience as soon as the film begins. A 90-year-old woman is nearly unresponsive when asked about her youth. She wants to help, but, hollowed out, she no longer has any access to her own life.

Then she is fitted with an iPod playing Louis Armstrong singing "When the Saints Go Marching In." Almost immediately, she is transformed, chatting volubly about her childhood and family.

Time and again in Alive Inside (awarded a jury prize at Sundance), you see a light switch on in the eyes of older people with dementia. Years melt away and sadness lifts as the sound of old favorites - it's subjective, anything from Beethoven to Sam Cooke - ignites ecstatic reactions.

Suddenly, people who were having trouble identifying common household objects are spouting verse after verse of lyrics they haven't heard in decades.

Even the speculative science about why music has this startling impact is fascinating. As neurologist and author Oliver Sacks ( Awakenings), one of the documentary's talking heads, notes, "Music is inseparable from emotion."

Alive Inside also examines the uncomfortable attitudes toward aging in our youth-besotted culture.

Personal music isn't a cure for Alzheimer's or dementia, but it does provide a blessed caesura from the daze, a reminder of the person cocooned inside.

The substance of this documentary is four-star inspiring. The film itself rates three stars. That averages out to a wondrous 31/2.

 


dhiltbrand@phillynews.com

215-854-4875 @daveondemand_tv

Inquirer TV Critic
0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
Latest Videos:
Also on Philly.com:
letter icon Newsletter