Alive Inside: A Story of Music and Memory (NR)

Documentary 74 August 1st, 2014
By Nick Schager
Practically guaranteed to elicit tears within its first five minutes, Alive Inside -- a documentary about activist Dan Cohen's attempts to get nursing homes to use music as a part of their care regimen for those afflicted with dementia, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's diseases -- is nonetheless more than just a tearjerker. Opening with clips of an unwell elderly woman and man becoming rejuvenated, physically and mentally, after listening to the favorite songs of their youth, director Michael Rossato-Bennett's moving film argues music's therapeutic value on slowly deteriorating minds. This treatment is the brainchild of Cohen, whose Music & Memory non-profit organization advocates such methods as a way to not only relight the spark of senior citizens cast into mental darkness but also -- by functioning as an at-home alternative to pharmaceutical medication -- to help alleviate an increasingly overly burdened health care system. That latter argument is far from thoroughly (or convincingly) laid out. Yet Rossato-Bennett's footage of confused and/or comatose older people being euphorically reinvigorated by songs on Cohen's iPod compellingly conveys how music -- so intimately wedded to our emotions, and experiences -- can help the severely ill elderly reconnect with themselves.
Michael Rossato-Bennett Dan Cohen Michael Rossato-Bennett, George Strayton Michael Rossato-Bennett, Alexandra McDougald BOND/360