Geoffrey Rush in a scene from the movie Shine.
Geoffrey Rush in a scene from the movie Shine. Contributed

Shine returns to the big screen for 20th anniversary

GEOFFREY Rush and director Scott Hicks are reuniting to celebrate their film which took Hollywood by storm.

It has been 20 years since Shine, Hicks' biopic of little-known Australian pianist David Helfgott, was released.

The film became a runaway success both in Australia and overseas, earning seven Oscar nominations and making a star out of Oscar-winner Rush.

The film is being re-released in select cinemas this week, with Hicks and Rush hosting several Q&A sessions across the country.

"There's this sense of a great affection for the film which is terrific," Hicks tells APN.

"It's a rare thing really to have people want to look back on something you've done, and bring it out again and shine it up as it were. We've got a brand new digital print. The film looks and sounds wonderful, and of course all the wonderful performances are as fresh as they were.

"I'm thrilled Geoffrey is as excited as we are relaunching the film."

Geoffrey Rush in a scene from the movie Shine.
Geoffrey Rush in a scene from the movie Shine. Contributed

Rush and a young Noah Taylor shared the role of Helfgott in the film, which traces the musical prodigy's turbulent relationship with his father, his mental breakdown and his eventual return to the piano.

Hicks says the film was a life-changing experience for all involved, including Helfgott himself.

"Here was a film that took everybody by surprise and took a story of an unknown pianist of promise and presented it to the world and same time unveiled an enormous talent to the world in the form of Geoffrey Rush," he says.

 "In the process David got back the career that he had lost. Life and art really set into each other in a unique way. It was more than just a biopic that did well. It was a life-changing experience for the participants."

Hicks revealed he was pressured to cast a more prominent actor in the lead role, with interesting coming from Hollywood heavyweights like Dustin Hoffman.

"Dustin was suggested to me - and he's an amazing actor no question - but not only had I already cast Geoffrey, I was convinced Geoffrey was right," he says.

"The other X factor was that Geoffrey was unknown. He didn't bring, in some respects, the baggage, of the great weight of performances that Dustin carries. People are never going to forget it is that actor, and what Geoffrey brought as an unknown actor on the screen was a sense of complete belief in what they were seeing.

Geoffrey Rush and Lynn-Redgrave in a scene from the movie Shine.
Geoffrey Rush and Lynn-Redgrave in a scene from the movie Shine. Contributed

"A number of other high-calibre actors were dangled in front of me with the promise if I cast one of them I would have the money tomorrow. It was like we were a band and a band sticks together. To me Geoffrey was part of what we were doing, and you couldn't just throw him aside and say 'oh I'll have so and so'. It wouldn't have been the same film at all as Geoffrey proved."

The filmmaker also shed light on the effort to which Rush went to avoid the need for a hand double to play in close-up shots.

"I was going to use David's hands and film things in a way to make that work, but for Geoffrey as an actor it was complicated to have the person who was playing in the room at the same time as he was trying to be David," Hicks says.

"At that point I said to Geoffrey 'what are we going to do?' and he said 'you tell me when you want to see my fingers on the keys and I'll learn where to put them'.

"I was like this is not chopsticks. It's some of the most difficult music in the cannon. He said I will learn, and that's exactly what he did.

"He simulated playing to actual playback of David performing and he was so spot-on and accurate."

Shine screens at BCC cinemas including Maroochydore, Morayfield, Coolangatta and Indooroopilly tomorrow.

It also screens at the Graceville Regal from Thursday through Wednesday, August 24, and at Jupiters Casino on August 25.

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