Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Now Playing: Drumline

Off the recommendation of a friend, Tammy and I watched Drumline this weekend.

It's the story of Devon Miles, a extraordinarily talented drummer with a chip on his shoulder. He earns a band scholarship to the Atlanta A&T; there his attitude puts him in conflict with both the drumline major and the highly talented band Director, Dr. Lee. All three men have a love of music and lots of attitude. They all, in their own way, have to learn to live the band's motto "One Band. One Sound." Thus, it is a wonderful little parable about teamwork (indeed, about our called life together as the church).

The film is also a peek inside the culture of African American University Marching Bands -- it portrays the culture with dignity and respect. We found the band performances to be a lot of fun. This is not a movie about race, though -- it is a movie about people. Without all the cliches about "life in the hood" or racial angst, we find a fine coming of age film. It is also devoid of the steroetypes of college comedies: sex, drugs, pulling pranks on clueless adults. The worst you get is some innuendo and cussing. It is a surprisingly clean film (though still rated PG 13). An IMDB user's comment is particularly apropos "A must see for anyone into marching bands and a should see for young people who dine on a steady diet of MTV and other entertainment junk food."

A couple of scenes stand out: Dr Lee is confronting his drum major -- asking him to remember his freshman year when he loved the music more than hearing himself play -- somewhere he lost that love. And he needs to find it again. That strikes me as a fine image for Christian life. Often times Christians begin to love seeing themselves be good disciples (and when they do, they become angry and abrasive with those who disagree with those who have differing views). Just as the drum major needed to rediscover the music, we need to rediscover Jesus, rather than simply listening to ourselves play.

Another theme that runs through is Dr. Lee's insistance that his students actually learn the craft of musicianship. Even though he is under pressure from the university president to put on a good show, Dr. Lee has standards. The great lesson he has to learn is being gracious with those standards.

All told, a good, entertaining film with some terrific themes. Enjoy

Soli Deo Gloria