[DVD review]Boy vs. world: a prodigy’s story

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[DVD review]Boy vs. world: a prodigy’s story

What do you think it’s like being a child prodigy: fun and exciting, or lonely and pressured?

“Vitus” portrays the life of a kid genius and the complexities he encounters as he evolves into a preteen with the maturity of a full adult.

This was Fredi M. Murer’s final film, and he expressly wanted to end his career with a lasting sentimental piece.

He certainly succeeded.

Vitus is in essence a film about parents and children, and about an outsider’s struggle to fit in - both themes with universal appeal. Vitus (Fabrizio Borsani at age 6 and Teo Gheorghiu at age 12) is a lonesome little boy in a world where he outsmarts everyone and everything.

His parents are thrilled when they discover his preternatural ability to play the piano, and make grand plans to hone his talent.

Little Vitus goes along with it, but secretly harbors a desire for nothing more than a quiet, normal life. Everything seems to be going well until Vitus hits a rebellious phase, complete with mood swings and outbursts.

He begins to act out anytime, anywhere and in front of anyone, including a respected pianist and his professors.

Vitus’ misbehavior can be interpreted as an expression of his frustration that people around him don’t understand his desires and intelligence.

The movie swings wildly between moments of serenity and excitement as Vitus concentrates on building a bat wing with his grandfather (Bruno Ganz) or plans a shrewd scheme with his grandfather to become a stock market millionaire.

The DVD’s special features reveal the origin of the movie: Murer, who also co-wrote the script, was inspired by a real boy genius, Cameron Johnson. Johnson is one of the youngest people ever to have started his own business (at age 9) and by 19, owned a slew of million-dollar venture companies.

Additional footage of Gheor-ghiu, the real-life piano prodigy who plays the title role, is also provided, and provides an evocative insight into how similar his life is to Vitus’.

Other bonus features include an interview with actor Bruno Ganz and several deleted scenes.

The film, although uplifting, does make you realize at the end that the life of a solitary child prodigy is not always filled with sunshine and daisies.


Drama, Music / Swiss-German

100 min.

Directed by Fredi M. Murer

Starring: Fabrizio Borsani, Teo Gheorghiu, Bruno Ganz

By Su-jeong Choi Contributing Writer [sc523@cornell.edu]
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