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Whiplash - a film about drumming


smithstock
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  • 7 months later...

I knew this film was highly regarded, but never bothered with it because - why would I be interested in a film about drumming and abuse?

 

It’s on iPlayer now and I gave it a go. Brilliant film, towards the end it was a similar experience to watching a horror. 

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Yeah I never liked the pay-off in the end. Seemed very contradictory to the message the movie had apparently been making up until that point.

 

In a similar ‘shit teacher’ vein, there is a movie called ‘White Water Summer’ where Kevin Bacon takes some teens on a wilderness trek and abandons them (and worse) to teach them to be self-sufficient. Watched it recently and it did make me think of Whiplash.

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This is exactly why I hate the film.

Spoiler

The abusive teacher gets to be abusive yet again and is then proven right. 

The father who should have been there to save his son gets nothing. 

 

I've had too many experiences with teachers over the years who think "tough love" is a perfect way to teach and only end up making me hate the subject i was once in love with. 

No, the teacher is an absolute monster and he should have been destroyed at the end, the kid should have gotten up and punched him in the face and said "life is more important than this shit" and walked off for a hug from his dad. 

 

The ending we got, was shit. 

 

On a personal level, obviously.

 

But hey, nearly 2 years on I can feel my pulse starting to race just thinking about this film. So on that score, its a great film. 

 

But I hate it

 

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3 hours ago, K said:

I don't think the teacher is proven right at the end. The protagonist is an amazing musician and creates something wonderful at the end, but I guess the whole point of the film is the ambiguity as to whether it was worth the abuse and the mistreatment, or whether it was even necessary.


Yeah, this. Andrew is free from Fletcher and his abusive behaviour, but still creates something amazing. Fletcher believed his way was the only possible way to achieve greatness, Andrew proves otherwise. It’s the ultimate fuck-you.

 

Also gives us a final, incredible performance for us to enjoy (I can’t imagine how shitty the end of this movie would be if Andrew punched him in the face and walked off).

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 But he doesn't deliver "despite" JK. Who looks like he's about to have an orgasm as the drum solo builds. 

It looked to me that JK absolutely reveled in the moment the kid gave in and they formed some sort of symbiotic musical nirvana. 

 

The message I got was "he's a brilliant drummer, because I made him into one. Look how brilliant he is, I made that, and this one didn't kill himself this time. Go Me" 

 

He wasn't player for himself or his father. He's still playing because he needs the affirmation from the teacher. Who was ultimately right.

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Spoiler

That's not really how the last scene plays out (though it's open to that interpretation): in the final moments, he breaks free of his teacher's control and proves that his genius, when untethered, is vastly beyond anything his teacher could come up with or imagine, and that his teacher's control had been stifling it all along. It's also a moment of revelation for the teacher who is momentarily taken aback, and then forced to cede ultimate control to the drummer, who has taken the lead from him at that point. From then, the only influence his teacher has is, amusingly enough, to act as his metronome for tempo.

 

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It's been a while since I watched it, but the way I remember interpreting that ending:

 

Spoiler

I don't think he's broken free of JK Simmons, and I don't think it was making a point about proving Fletcher's teaching methods either right or wrong. He may not have to directly put up with Fletcher's abuse any more, but he's still shown that he wants to stay in that world of musical perfectionism, regardless of whether that will ultimately make him happy. 

 

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The fact that even 12 months after I watched it, I still have an emotional attachment to the film does speak volumes. Its a visceral experience. But I can't help but feel that JK isn't shown the error of his actions. 

Or rather, I don't feel he is made to pay for his actions enough. Yes, he now finds himself where he is at the end, but in my head he is still bullying the orchestra in front of him. There's no contrition or apology.

He and the kid are in a world of their own, together. Like it was a lovers tiff easily glossed over. 

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