Mr. Holland's Opus
1995 film by Stephen Herek
Mr. Holland's Opus is a 1995 film about a frustrated composer who finds fulfillment as a high school music teacher.
- Directed by Stephen Herek. Written by Patrick Sheane Duncan.
A symphony of life. (taglines)
- Playing music is supposed to be fun. It's about heart, it's about feelings, moving people, and something beautiful, and it's not about notes on a page. I can teach you notes on a page, I can't teach you that other stuff.
- The day they cut the football budget in this state, that will be the end of Western Civilization as we know it!
- It's almost funny. I got dragged into this gig kicking and screaming, and now it's the only thing I want to do.
- You work for 30 years because you think that what you do makes a difference, you think it matters to people, but then you wake up one morning and find out, well no, you've made a little error there, you're expendable. I should be laughing.
- A teacher has two jobs; fill young minds with knowledge, yes, but more important, give those minds a compass so that that knowledge doesn't go to waste.
- Iris Holland: Why is everyone else's child more important than yours?
- Bill Meister(crying over the grave of Louis Russ, a former student killed in Vietnam): We know too many of these kids!
- Gertrude Lang: [as an adult] Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn't rich and he isn't famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he's achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.
- Iris Holland: When you were in high school, did you ever wonder if your teachers went home and got it on at night?
- Glenn Holland: When I was in high school, my teachers were all priests and nuns.
- Iris Holland: I had such a crush on Mr. Griffith, he could've taken me home any time.
- Glenn Holland: Really?
- Iris Holland: Mhm.
- Glenn Holland: And who was this Mr. Griffith?
- Iris Holland: Oh, he was my music teacher.
- Glenn Holland: Let me ask you a question. When you look in the mirror, what do you like best about yourself?
- Gertrude Lang: My hair.
- Glenn Holland: Why?
- Gertrude Lang: Well, my father always says that it reminds him of the sunset.
- Glenn Holland: Play the sunset. Close your eyes. One, two, three, four.
- [Glenn and Iris are discussing the possibility of sending Cole to a special school]
- Glenn Holland: The doctor said that gestures meant...
- Iris Holland: It's way more than gestures.
- Glenn Holland: That gestures meant that Cole would never learn how to lip read or to talk!
- Iris Holland: He can barely talk now, he can't say two or three words!
- Glenn Holland: The guy is a specialist, Iris!
- Iris Holland: Ohhh, he's a specialist who thinks that deaf people are retarded and he is not retarded, he is...
- [Cole is screaming, asking for something and Iris doesn't know what it is]
- Iris Holland: Cole!
- Glenn Holland: What does he...? Give him what he wants!
- Iris Holland: I don't know what he wants, I don't understand what he's trying to say. Don't you get it? You walk to school every day with all these children who are normal. I can't talk to my son! I don't know what he wants or what he thinks or what he feels. I can't tell him that I love him, I can't tell him who I am. I want to talk to my son! I don't care what it costs, I don't care what the stupid doctor says it's right or wrong. I want to talk to my son! [Starts sobbing and hugging Cole]
- Vice Principal Wolters: Have you been to any of the football games this season, Mr. Holland?
- Glenn Holland: I can't say that I have, no.
- Vice Principal Wolters: Well, Mrs. Jacobs and I feel that there's something missing.
- Glenn Holland: Touchdowns?
- Glenn Holland: Which instrument do you think you'd like to play?
- Louis Russ: Well, I was kinda thinkin' like... How about electric guitar?
- Glenn Holland: Well, this is a marching band. The extension cord will kill us.
- Glenn Holland: [playing Beethoven's Seventh Symphony for his class] He couldn't hear. Of all people. Not a thing. And because Beethoven couldn't hear, the thought of him conducting, let alone composing, was pathetic to most people. And so to answer them, he composed and conducted the seventh symphony. Just try to imagine; Beethoven standing on that podium, holding his baton, his hands waving gracefully through the air. The orchestra in his mind is playing perfectly, and the orchestra in front of him, trying desperately just to keep up. There is a story, that in order to write his music, Beethoven literally sawed the legs off of his piano, so that the body would lay flat on the floor. And he would lie down next the piano with his ear pressed to the floor, and he would hit the keys with his fingers in order to hear his music through the vibrations of the floor.
- Student: Mister Holland? If he couldn't hear, how would he even know what the notes were? Like, if he never heard a "C", how did he know that's what he wanted to play?
- Glenn Holland: [pause] Well... Beethoven wasn't born deaf.
- Iris Holland: [translating Cole's signing for Glenn] Why do you assume that John Lennon's death would mean nothing to me? Do you think I'm stupid? I know who John Lennon is.
- Glenn Holland: [Glenn turns to Iris] I never said that he...
- Iris Holland: [Iris continues translating] I can't read your lips if you don't look at me.
- Glenn Holland: [Glenn looks back at Cole] I never said you were stupid.
- Iris Holland: You must think so. If you think I don't know who The Beatles are or any music at all. You think I don't care about what it is you do or what you love? You're my father. I know what music is. You could help me to know it better, but - no. You care more about teaching other people than you do about me.
- Glenn Holland: [Cole makes a final gesture, Iris doesn't translate it] Iris... What does this mean?
- Iris Holland: That means "asshole".
- Glenn Holland: Well, congratulations, Gene. You've been looking for a way to get rid of me for 30 years, and they finally gave you an excuse.
- Vice Principal Wolters: You know, I'm not as popular as you. I'm not anybody's favorite anything.
- Glenn Holland: That's because you're the enemy, Gene. You just don't know it.
- Principal Wolters: I care about these kids just as much as you do. And if I'm forced to choose between Mozart and reading and writing and long division, I choose long division.
- Glenn Holland: Well, I guess you can cut the arts as much as you want, Gene. Sooner or later, these kids aren't going to have anything to read or write about.
- A symphony of life.
- We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.
- It's not about the direction you take. It's about the direction you give.
- Of all the lives he changed, the one that changed the most was his own.
- Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
- Richard Dreyfuss - Glenn Holland
- Glenne Headly - Iris Holland
- Jay Thomas - Bill Meister
- Olympia Dukakis - Principal Helen Jacobs
- William H. Macy - Vice Principal (later Principal) Gene Wolters
- Alicia Witt - Gertrude Lang
- Terrence Howard - Louis Russ
- Damon Whitaker - Bobby Tidd
- Jean Louisa Kelly - Rowena Morgan
- Alexandra Boyd - Sarah Olmstead
- Nicholas John Renner - Coltrane "Cole" Holland (age 6)
- Joseph Anderson - Coltrane "Cole" Holland (age 15)
- Anthony Natale - Coltrane "Cole" Holland (age 28)
- Joanna Gleason - Governor Gertrude Lang
- Beth Maitland - Deaf School Principal
- Balthazar Getty - Stadler
- Mr. Holland's Opus quotes at the Internet Movie Database
- Mr. Holland's Opus at Rotten Tomatoes