Sundance Film Review: Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory

Posted January 18, 2014 in
Share this:Share on Facebook0Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+0Pin on Pinterest1
Photo courtesy of: Eyeball NYC

Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory
Sundance Film Festival
Director: Michael Rossato-Bennett

Everyone uses music as therapy to some extent, whether to soothe emotional wounds or revisit one’s youth and mull over fond memories. In Alive Inside, social worker Dan Cohen uses the connective power of music to reach otherwise unreachable people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. In today’s American industrial healthcare system, millions of elderly people with degenerative mental diseases are kept in hospitals and fed medication—Cohen demonstrates that by listening to music from a person’s past, even the most unresponsive patients are able to regain at least some sense of self, something that no other treatments have done. It seems obvious—I mean, what better than music to make you feel and remember things from the past? With first-hand footage, we see the music of Louis Armstrong, The Beatles and others bring people essentially back from the dead—their loved ones and fellow patients marvel as the subjects recall memories and emotions that have been blacked out for years. In interviews with medical professionals and psychologists, Rossato-Bennett goes beyond the practical applications of music therapy and criticizes the foundation of the entire nursing home model, instead providing examples of home care in conjunction with music therapy. I was left with a few questions though: Are there any lasting, long-term results of music therapy? Would playing familiar music all the time essentially cure someone with mild Alzheimer’s? Have there been any controlled studies of this method, or are the studies limited to these amateur demonstrations? Overall, though, Alive Inside is a must-see for anyone who knows an elderly person with dementia, or for anyone who plans on continuing to live in American society. –Cody Kirkland

Screening Times: 
Sunday, Jan. 19 — 12:30 p.m. • Redstone Cinema 1, Park City 
Tuesday, Jan. 21 — 9:15 p.m. • Temple Theatre, Park City
Friday, Jan. 24 — 9:45 p.m. • Broadway Centre Cinemas, Salt Lake City
Saturday, Jan. 25 — 11:30 a.m. • Library Center Theatre, Park City