The boy who knew too much: a child prodigy

This is the true story of scientific child prodigy, and former baby genius, Ainan Celeste Cawley, written by his father. It is the true story, too, of his gifted brothers and of all the Cawley family. I write also of child prodigy and genius in general: what it is, and how it is so often neglected in the modern world. As a society, we so often fail those we should most hope to see succeed: our gifted children and the gifted adults they become. Site Copyright: Valentine Cawley, 2006 +

Monday, March 10, 2008

August Rush, Child Prodigy Musician

There is a film out, by the name of August Rush. It tells of a child prodigy musician. Unsurprisingly, my wife and I decided to go to see it, to see if it had anything insightful to say about prodigy. It didn't.

August Rush is the kind of film that I would wish never made. It is full of stereotypes and cartoonish characters - indeed, the central character, "August Rush"/Evan Taylor, is a cartoon prodigy - so shallow is the depth of his portrayal, by the director and writer. I will say nothing more of him, other than to say that there is little that can be said.

As regular readers of my blog will know, I am not fond of plagiarism - indeed, it is one of my abiding hates. Unfortunately, August Rush is one of the most plagiaristic, derivative, composite films I have seen in many years. Virtually, the entire content of the film is borrowed from somewhere else.

There is a main character, Wizard, who is just like Fagin, from Charles Dickens. The prodigy, August Rush, is forever hearing music in the world, just like Bjork, in her film of quite a few years ago, the name of which eludes me. Indeed, there are scenes of rhythmic sound and natural notes, sounding in the world, just like those that appear in the earlier film. It nauseated me to hear such imitativeness. Then there is a scene where August Rush fills a room with musical notes - they were appended everywhere, all over the walls, and all - just like the famous garage scene in A Beautiful Mind, in which we find a room filled with the jottings and connections drawn by John Nash, on every surface.

Anyone well versed in the filmic culture of the last twenty years, or the literature of the last two hundred, will find themselves recognizing virtually everything in this film, as being derived from something else. Watching the film became a kind of game of "Spot the theft".

I found it ironic, actually. You see the film concerns a boy of great creative and prodigious power - but the film itself showed that its creators had none of either power, at all. Nor did they have any real understanding of prodigy.

We left the cinema thoroughly unenlightened - except for a new appreciation of just how few thinking, creating people there are in Hollywood these days.

Don't rush to see August Rush - unless you are a masochist (or know nothing of film or literature and won't recognize the incessant borrowings.) On second thoughts, even if you don't spot the thefts, the film isn't up to much: it adds nothing to the world, and takes a couple of hours of your life away- an utter waste of time.

(If you would like to learn more of Ainan Celeste Cawley, a scientific child prodigy, aged eight years and one month, or his gifted brothers, Fintan, four years and seven months, and Tiarnan, two years exactly, please go to: I also write of gifted education, IQ, intelligence, the Irish, the Malays, Singapore, College, University, Chemistry, Science, genetics, left-handedness, precocity, child prodigy, child genius, baby genius, adult genius, savant, gifted adults and gifted children in general. Thanks.)

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posted by Valentine Cawley @ 10:12 AM 


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you seen "Little Man Tate"?

I'm just curious what you think of it.

11:19 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you for your curiosity - and your question, for it, itself, makes me curious.

You see, I haven't watched "Little Man Tate" yet...but when I have the chance, I will write a post about my views on what it has to say.

That Jodie Foster was involved in it - a child prodigy actress - might mean it has something of note to say about the issue - at least from her experience and understanding of it. I will have to find a copy somehow.

Kind regards

9:58 PM  
Blogger Casey said...

I think your comment about how the boy "fills the room with musical notes" much like how Nash "fills the room with equations" was a bit of a stretch. I am quite certain that when the director shot that scene, he was not aware of the supposed "similarities" between the two scenes, and shot only in the interest of what was needed next in the film (the introduction of the boys "talent"). But overall, the rest of what you said is fair.

6:35 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

I disagree Casey. Visually the scenes were basically the same idea (between A Beautiful Mind and August Rush). I have no doubt that the Director would have seen the earlier, more famous, film - also about someone special. I would think it most likely that it is a CONSCIOUS "borrowing" from the earlier film.

However, you are entitled to your differing opinion - and I, therefore, to mine!

Thanks for your comment.

9:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you're an asshole.

10:14 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

You may think that. However, I rather than think it, KNOW that you are an "asshole". My reason is simple: you are one of the people who was not able to distinguish fiction from reality because you arrived on my blog with a search for "was August Rush a true story"...this means two things: a) you are not the sharpest of people b) you are probably not up to the job that you are doing at your workplace. By the way, you shouldn't be surfing at work, for personal stuff. Your IP is: 209.253.217.# (McLeodUSA Incorporated)

I am sure your employers would love to know just how you spend your time: online, insulting people you don't know, because they hold different views to you. My you must a pleasant person to have around.

Have a good day.

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Your IP is..." WIN! :D

10:47 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Thank you. I thought so too.

Many people like to attach/insult others on the internet because they believe themselves to be stating the IP address is just the right sort of reply to that.

Best wishes.

10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand everyone has their opinions of movies and yes virtually every film is copied from something else these days. But nonetheless, you seem to take the fun out of just watching a movie. Watch it for just what its supposed to be, dont tear it apart because it will in fact make you dislike it. Maybe the movie wasnt exceptional in your use of the term, but to me i thought it was very moving and told a great story. And i too know plenty about literature and film. Put the fun and carelessness back into your life, because until you do it seems you just wont like anything.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Syahidah and Valentine said...

People are different. Some people like certain things, others, other things. I, personally, dislike unacknowledged borrowing from others. This film is filled with direct and, I suggest, conscious plagiarisms. Personally, I find that disagreeable, not enjoyable. When I recognize it, it puts me off. Thereafter, I cannot enjoy the work. However, when I across something fresh and different - as Bjork's film that was stolen from, was, for instance, I really, really enjoyed it. So it is not the type of scene that I don't enjoy (I liked A Beautiful Mind very much), but the fact that it is stolen, that I cannot enjoy it. I enjoy the firsthand, but not the secondhand, however, I must point out, that I do enjoy many films and books. I enjoy them for their uniqueness, their freshness, their own perspectives. I never enjoy heavily derivative works. Sorry...

9:12 PM  
Blogger Garrett said...

I love that movie!

2:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You may know and comprehend the film aspects of this movie, and how it relates to other films... but that's not the point of this movie. A huge aspect of this movie is clearly the music. The musical style of this movie allows it to be clearly differentiated from any other film, due to the creativity and originality within. So i ask why you complain about people lacking creative and prodigious power, when you are blind to the musical creations expressed in this film. It makes up for the movie similarities with its deep and powerful music... nuff said.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Valentine Cawley said...

Sam, we have a different view of things. For you, it is enough that a film has a decent soundtrack...for me, that is not enough. A film is a visual medium. So, I am looking at the visuals...and what I see is a lot of derivativeness. I do not know enough about the kind of music in the film to know whether the music is also derivative. I would be unsurprised, however, if it was. It is rare for one aspect of a film to be original and the rest to be extremely derivative. (Try finding examples if you doubt it).

My view of the film stands. You are welcome to your view of the music. Thanks for your comment.

6:48 PM  
Blogger ftmcoop said...

Valentine: You know what it doesn't really matter if the movie borrowed from others or not. There are plenty of movies that borrow from one another regularly. Just look a little closer at the whole moral of the story of how we can connect through certain types of things music being one of them. Sure there were a few things I didn't like about the movie but that is about every movie I watch. Overall I thought the movie was good.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Brandon said...

are you kidding this movie was an amazing movie and just in case you didn't notice or maybe you just don't know anything but there are only really seven plots in literature August Rush is an amazing movie with a good story and a very good message.

6:07 AM  

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