Mr. Holland's Opus
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Mr. Holland's Opus
Mr. Holland's Opus
Mr Hollands Opus.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Herek
Produced byTed Field
Robert W. Cort
Michael Nolin
Patrick Sheane Duncan
Written byPatrick Sheane Duncan
Music byMichael Kamen
CinematographyOliver Wood
Edited byTrudy Ship
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • December 29, 1995 (1995-12-29)
Running time
143 minutes
CountryUnited States
American Sign Language
Budget$31 million[1]
Box office$106,269,971

Mr. Holland's Opus is a 1995 American drama film directed by Stephen Herek, produced by Ted Field, Robert W. Cort, and Michael Nolin, and written by Patrick Sheane Duncan.[2] The film stars Richard Dreyfuss in the title role of Glenn Holland, a high-school music teacher who aspires to write his own composition while struggling with a lack of quality time with his wife and profoundly deaf son. The cast also includes Glenne Headly, Olympia Dukakis, William H. Macy, and Jay Thomas.

The film was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay. Richard Dreyfuss received nominations for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama and the Academy Award for Best Actor.


In Portland, Oregon in 1965, 30-year-old Glenn Holland is a talented musician and composer who has been relatively successful in the exhausting life of a professional musical performer. However, in an attempt to enjoy more free time with his young wife, Iris, and to enable him to compose a piece of orchestral music, Holland accepts a teaching position at John F. Kennedy High School.

Unfortunately for Holland, he is soon forced to realize that his position as a music teacher makes him a marginalized figure in the faculty's hierarchy. Many of his colleagues, and some in Kennedy High's administration, including the Vice-Principal Gene Wolters, resent Holland and question the value and importance of music education given the school's strained budget. However, he quickly begins to win many of his colleagues over, including Principal Helen Jacobs and football coach Bill Meister. Holland finds success using rock and roll as a way to make classical music more accessible to his students.

Holland's lack of quality time with Iris becomes problematic when their son Coltrane "Cole" is found to be 90% deaf. Holland reacts with hostility to the news that he can never teach the joys of music to his own child. Iris willingly learns American Sign Language to communicate with her son, but Holland resists. This causes further estrangement within his family.

A student of his named Louis Russ dies fighting in the Vietnam War. A military funeral is held for him. As the years progress, Holland grows closer to his students at Kennedy High and more distant from his own son. He addresses a series of challenges created by people who are either hesitant or hostile towards the concept of musical excellence within the walls of the average American high school. He inspires numerous students, but never has private time for himself or his family, delaying the completion of his own orchestral composition. Eventually, he reaches an age when it is too late to have a realistic chance of finding financial backing, or ever having it performed.

In 1995, the adversaries of the Kennedy High music program win a decisive institutional victory. Now working as the principal, Wolters faces budget cuts from the board of education. He responds by eliminating music, art, and drama from the school curriculum leading to Holland's early retirement. Holland realizes that his career in music is likely over, thinking that his former students have mostly forgotten him and is dejected at his failure ever to have his composition, which he views as his life's work, performed.

On his final day as a teacher, the 60-year-old Holland enters the school auditorium to see that hundreds of his former students have secretly returned to the school to celebrate his career upon hearing of his retirement. Holland's orchestral piece, never before heard in public, has been put before the musicians by his wife and son. One of his most musically challenged students, Gertrude Lang, now the Governor of Oregon, takes the podium and explains to Holland that the symphony he wrote is not his only legacy: it also includes the people he has inspired and taught, all of the people he has helped to make a better person. Lang then sits among the musicians, drawn from Holland's students over the decades, with her clarinet, but not before asking Holland to step up on stage and serve as their conductor for the premiere performance of Mr. Holland's Opus ("An American Symphony"). A proud Iris and Cole look on, appreciating the affection and respect that Holland receives.


  • Richard Dreyfuss as Glenn Holland, a composer who becomes a music teacher at John F. Kennedy High School.
  • Glenne Headly as Iris Holland, the wife of Glenn.
  • Jay Thomas as Bill Meister, the gym teacher and coach of John F. Kennedy High School's football team who befriends Glenn.
  • Olympia Dukakis as Principal Helen Jacobs, the principal of John F. Kennedy High School, who retires in 1972.
  • William H. Macy as Vice Principal Gene Wolters, the vice-principal of John F. Kennedy High School who later becomes Principal in 1972.
  • Jean Louisa Kelly as Rowena Morgan, a vocalist student of Glenn.
  • Joanna Gleason as Gertrude Lang, a former student of Glenn and clarinet player who is now the governor of Oregon.
  • Damon Whitaker as Bobby Tidd, a student of Glenn.
  • Terrence Howard as Louis Russ, a high school football player and a student of Glenn who plays the bass drum.
  • Alexandra Boyd as Sarah Olmstead, a drama teacher.
  • Anthony Natale as Coltrane "Cole" Holland (age 28), the son of Glenn and Iris who is 90% deaf.
    • Joseph Anderson as Coltrane "Cole" Holland (age 15)
    • Nicholas John Renner as Coltrane "Cole" Holland (age 6)
  • Beth Maitland as Deaf School Principal, the principal of a deaf school that Cole is enrolled in.
  • Kathryn Arnett as Ms. Swedlin, one of Glenn's students.
  • Kelly M. Casey, the teacher of a deaf school that Cole is enrolled in.
  • Ted Roisum, a doctor who analyzes Cole when he Glenn and Iris find signs that he is deaf.
  • Denis Biasi as Stadler


The movie was written by Patrick Sheane Duncan, directed by Stephen Herek, and was filmed in and around Portland, Oregon, with many exterior and interior scenes taking place at Ulysses S. Grant High School.[3] Other scenes were filmed in Portland's St. Johns neighborhood and Hollywood District.

Archival footage

Archival footage seen in the film includes:


The film features an orchestral score by Michael Kamen and many pieces of classical music. Kamen also wrote An American Symphony ("Mr. Holland's Opus"), the work on which Mr. Holland is shown working throughout the movie. Kamen's arrangement won the 1997 Grammy for Best Instrumental Arrangement.

Soundtrack releases

Two soundtrack albums were released for this film in January 1996. One is the original motion picture score, and includes all of the original music written for the film by Michael Kamen. The second album is a collection of popular music featured in the film:

  1. "Visions of a Sunset" - Shawn Stockman (of Boyz II Men)
  2. "1-2-3" - Len Barry
  3. "A Lover's Concerto" - The Toys
  4. "Keep On Running" - Spencer Davis Group
  5. "Uptight (Everything's Alright)" - Stevie Wonder
  6. "Imagine" - John Lennon
  7. "The Pretender" - Jackson Browne
  8. "Someone to Watch Over Me" - Julia Fordham
  9. "I Got a Woman" - Ray Charles
  10. "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" - John Lennon
  11. "Cole's Song" - Julian Lennon and Tim Renwick
  12. An American Symphony ("Mr. Holland's Opus") - London Metropolitan Orchestra and Michael Kamen


Box office

In the United States, gross domestic takings totaled US$82,569,971. International takings are estimated at US$23,700,000, for a gross worldwide takings of $106,269,971.[4] Rental totals reached $36,550,000 in the US. Although the film is included among 1995 box-office releases (it ranks as the 14th-most successful film of that year), it was only released in a few theatres in New York and Los Angeles on December 29, 1995, because Disney felt, accurately, that Richard Dreyfuss' performance had a good chance of getting an Oscar nomination if it beat that year's in-theatre deadline.


The film holds a 75% "Fresh" rating from 28 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes. The site's consensus states: "A feel-good story brought to life by a terrific ensemble cast, Mr. Holland's Opus plucks the heartstrings without shame -- and with undeniable skill."[5]CinemaScore reported that audiences gave the film a rare "A+" grade.[6]The New York Times film review cited Dreyfuss for "a warm and really touching performance";[7]Variety also called his performance "quite effective and surprisingly restrained".[8]Variety further noted the "nostalgic aura" that permeates the film, "which encourages viewers to think fondly of -- and pay tribute to -- the one teacher in their lives who made a difference".[8]Roger Ebert gave the film 3 1/2 out of 4 stars, commending its starring and supporting casts and agreeing with the film's message of the ability of high school teachers to inspire their students, as well as the importance of cultural offerings on the curriculum.[9]

Writer Patrick Sheane Duncan was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay at the 53rd Golden Globe Awards. Dreyfuss was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Drama.


The film is recognized by American Film Institute in this list:

The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation

Inspired by the motion picture, its composer, Michael Kamen, founded The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation in 1996 as his commitment to the future of music education.[11]

See also


  1. ^ "Mr. Holland's Opus - PowerGrid". Archived from the original on 2016-03-13. Retrieved 2016.
  2. ^ "Mr. Holland's Opus (1995)". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Mr. Holland's Opus on IMDb
  4. ^ "Field Marshal". Newsweek. Retrieved .
  5. ^ Mr. Holland's Opus at Rotten Tomatoes
  6. ^ McClintock, Pamela (August 19, 2011). "Why CinemaScore Matters for Box Office". CinemaScore. Retrieved 2019.
  7. ^ Maslin, Janet (January 19, 1996). "FILM REVIEW; A Teacher Who Once Had Dreams". The New York Times. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ a b Levy, Emanuel (December 31, 1995). "Mr. Holland's Opus". Variety. Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ "Mr. Holland's Opus". January 19, 1995. Retrieved 2019.
  10. ^ "AFI's 100 Years...100 Cheers Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved .
  11. ^ Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes