ALIVE INSIDE: A STORY OF MUSIC AND MEMORY is playing at the Sundance Film Festival. It's a scientifically emotional film about our basic abilities as humans: communication and connections. Over a three year period, filmmaker Michael Rosatto-Bennett followed Dan Cohen as he visited various nursing facilities. What I saw on the screen seemed almost impossible. It was truly magical. Patients with little connection to people and their environment, some with no recognition of their own adult children, put a set of headphones on, plugged into an ipod programmed with songs of their generation and PRESTO! they came to life. They talked about what they were listening to; they reminisced about the time period; they talked about their feelings. But most importantly, they were connected to people. With music, they came back to the world around them and were living again.
I know this sounds like magic, but neurology actually supports this observation. With the disease of dementia, the hippocampus or memory area of our brains is affected. It looks a bit like a bunch of spider webs throwing off the pathways in our brain, making it impossible for proper connections to take place. But music memory isn't stored here. Music reaches all the different areas of our brain and stimulates synapses or fireworks of communication so that we "wake up!" Music touches us all on so many different levels, and Dan Cohen with his endeavors has helped to bring life back into these older folks who had given up and recoiled within themselves.
This is a very abridged review, but a more detailed one will follow after the festival. I would be remiss if I didn't let everyone know about the power of this film. We baby-boomers will be inhabiting this earth, growing exponentially over the next 2 decades. Don't we want to help our own parents age and live as well as set the precedent for our own care in the coming years? See this film and empower yourself.