On The Set Of New York

     In the past months, I’ve been hearing people talking about this movie, “August Rush”. When asked if I have watched it already, I would say ‘no’, and then they would be surprised because, according to them, “it is a very, very good movie”. Intrigued by their description of the said movie, I finally watched it, 5 years after its release date. Sure enough, “it is..” indeed “..a very, very good movie”.  

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     “August Rush” by Kirsten Sheridan, is a story of a music prodigy. It is about how music brought together a family that was once separated and torn apart. It shows that music and talent are innate and that through your passion, fate will bring you to where you are supposed to be.

     This movie featured a Roman-inspired triumphal arch, the Washington’s Arch, which is located in Washington Square Park in New York City. This arch was one of the highlighted architecture in the movie since most of the scenes were at this setting. The story and how the arch was featured began with two musicians, Lyla Novacek (Keri Russell) and Louis Connelly (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), who, after their respective concerts, met in a party which was staged within eyesight of Washington’s Arch. They spent the night together on a rooftop while listening to a man with a harmonica and a guitar playing his version of “Moondance” below the arch. The following morning when they woke up, Lyla realized she had to go back to their hotel because her father is waiting for her. Louis asked if he could walk her to their hotel, but Lyla refused. Louis, then, asked Lyla to meet him at 10:00 by the arch, and so Lyla said ‘yes’. Louis waited for her by the arch, but Lyla didn’t go. He was unaware that Lyla was bearing his child. Because of Lyla’s strict father, she was also unaware that her father gave her son to an orphanage. 11 years after, Lyla and Louis’ son, Evan Taylor (Freddie Highmore), also known as August Rush in the latter part, ran away from the orphanage and “followed the music” which brought him to New York City, specifically in Washington Square Park. This is where he saw and realized that he has an amazing musical talent. He performed in the streets of Washington Square Park and received a lot of donations from his audiences. August Rush did most of his street performances in front of the Washington’s Arch, until he was chosen to perform the rhapsody at the symphony concert.

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     The Washington’s Arch, which was featured in the said film, was erected in 1899 to celebrate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration as president of the United States. At first, it was made out of plaster and wood, which was designed by Stanford White, and was erected one block north of Washington Square, spanning 5th Avenue, a few days before the centennial date. Among the four temporary arches erected throughout the city for the said event, this one is what the public loved. “The idea has been to carry out a type of architecture which prevailed during colonial and Washington’s own time, and which belongs more naturally to this country than any other”, The New York Times wrote on April 1889. This temporary plaster and wood arch was so popular that a permanent marble version was commissioned, standing 77 feet. Although it was first suggested to use granite and stone for the replacement of the arch, they eventually agreed on using marble instead. The arch was decorated with sculptures of Washington in both his civilian and military guises, by Alexander Stirling Calder and Herman MacNeil. On the south side of the arch, an inscription reads: “Let us raise a standard to which the wise and the honest can repair. The vent is in the hand of God.” The Washington’s Arch became the symbol of a new America devoted to the arts.  

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     For me, it was an amazing realization that a certain architecture that was built for a purpose and for a particular function, changes and evolves over time. For instance, the Washington’s Arch was built, first, as to commemorate the centennial of George Washington’s inauguration, second, because Victorian New Yorkers were eager to stage elaborate celebrations with public fanfare, and third, to provide an opportunity to remind the country that New York was the nation’s first capitol. However, the function and purpose of this architectural structure changed over time. It is now a famous landmark and it has long been a hub for politics and culture in New York City. It has become a social and cultural center for New Yorkers, where people gather and spend their free time in, like what was seen in the movie, “August Rush”. Cliché as it may seem, people change, and so are architecture.

Katrina Sicat (2011-02474)

March 12, 2012 | 04:41 AM

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