What the Movie “Once” Shows Us About the Power of Music

Here’s a movie you should consider seeing: Once.

It’s an independent film made for $160,000, and yet it is better than many films costing 100 times more. It is not an incredible film, but it has a soul. It tells a simple but moving message of the power of music. To briefly summarize the film, a street musician (“Guy”) meets a street saleswoman (“Girl”). The two share a love of music and end up making it together. I won’t reveal what else happens, but suffice it to say that the outworking of this extremely brief plot summary is compelling and, yes, inspiring. The film considers both the power of music and the potential of romance as themes, but the former wins by a mile. Though it could be billed as a romance, the film is really about the beauty of music and the power it possesses to unite even the most alienated of people. In the end, it’s a simple message, but a true one.

The only thing to watch out for here is the language of the film. There are no sex scenes or anything of that sort. The film is quite clean otherwise and thus allows the viewer to focus on the aforementioned idea tossed out by the movie, namely, that music–when played with beauty–has great power and can unite even total strangers. Though Christians of course believe that mankind can find true unity only when connected to Christ by faith in Him, we can likewise affirm that God has invested music with great potency on the earth. In effect, God has given us another language in programming musical ability and interest in us. We err when we so emphasize propositions and speech in our lives that we miss proper recognition of the language of music. It is my personal opinion, based entirely on speculation, that God gave His earth music in order to express the emotions. We can attempt to capture our emotions with words, but it seems that we often fail in this endeavor. With music, though, I think that talented performers are able to an extent to plumb the depths of what it feels like to know despair, to experience true love, to sustain faith through trial. I don’t know if many people approach music in this way; perhaps they do. But I sometimes think that they don’t, and thus that they miss out on much of the beauty of experiencing music. Music can be an aural backdrop, it can be a diversion, it can be a mere motivator, but it can also be a chamber of the soul, a place to escape and hear the emotions, experiences, and feelings of life. We need not shy away from such a perspective; if God did not want us to more fully experience life, he would not have given us music.

You’ll see what I mean by all this if you watch Once. The movie is not epic, it is not incredible, but it is good, and it will inspire you whatever your musical ability to more fully appreciate and even create works of beauty. Music is not God; it cannot truly, purely unite us and “save” us, so to speak, but it does possess a vast potential to inspire, discover, and bless the world by the secret place of the emotions, the experiences of life, it opens up to us. That’s the story of Once, and it’s a story worth telling, and worth watching.

  • Riley

    Owen,
    Laurel and I really liked “Once” as well. In fact, it might be one of my favorite movies now. We recently bought the soundtrack and we are really enjoying that too. The music in this movie really does have soul. It may sound funny, but I got goose bumps on a couple of the songs. I think that I am going to add a link (is that what you call it) to your post on my new blog. You said everything I would like to say about “Once” only better. I pray that you are doing well.

  • Vitamin Z

    Totally agree. Great movie. So refreshing.

  • Brad

    Nice post. I agree. It also won an Oscar this year for the best original song.

  • Geoff

    Owen,

    Long time reader, first time commenter. Reading your various posts on music makes me think you might really like the following song: ‘This Old Love’ by Lior.

    If you get around to listening to it I’d be most interested to know what you think.

    Geoff


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