Father and son relationships are very complicated and many aspects are well documented in books, poems, and film. As the father of two young sons, four and two, I was deeply affected by the film “The Music Never Stopped,” directed by Jim Kohlberg. I had the privilege of viewing this film at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. This is the first film I have seen in my adult life that caused me to weep openly several times. I connected with the struggle of this father as he dealt with a devastating brain injury to his estranged son. The film covered three common themes in father and son relationships. Rebellion, guilt, and acceptance are woven throughout the film. Each theme reminded me, as the father of two boys, I will have to deal with all of these issues in the future. I hope I handle things better than the father, Henry Sawyer, did in the film.
The film starts in the late sixties when the son, Gabriel Sawyer, attends a high school anti -war rally in which an American flag is burned. Henry Sawyer, a Korean War Veteran, is deeply insulted by this show of disrespect. He feels his son has embarrassed him with this show of rebellion against everything the father believes in. Instead of trying to understand his son’s point of view and feelings on the matter, he lashes out at him causing a verbal and physical altercation. Henry cannot believe that his own son could be so different from himself, when in fact this is very common during the teenage years. His angry rejection drove his son to leave the home, never to return. I promised myself I would not let my pride come before my relationship with my own boys. The lesson I learned is that rebellion is a part of growing up and is not direct reflection of my parenting skills.
Guilt ridden, twenty years later, Henry is contacted by a hospital and told his estranged son has suffered a...
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