The story was told in medias res as a series of flashbacks. The story started on a day of the post-Word War II period, but the main scenes took place on the Virginian, a vessel voyaged between Europe and America, in the early 1900s.
Max Tooney, a musician, entered a secondhand music shop to sell his trumpet. He asked to play it one last time. The shopkeeper agreed and the immediately recognized the song was the same as the one he got from a broken record matrix in a secondhand piano =. He asked Max who created the piece and Max told him the story of 1900.
When 1900 was still a baby, he was found abandoned on the Virginian. Danny, a coal-man from the boiler room, found him and decided to raise 1900. Danny hid 1900 from the ship's officers. Unfortunately, Danny was killed in an accident when 1900 was eight-year-old.
1900 showed his music talent and joined the ship's orchestra as he grew up. He met and became friends with Max in 1927. Although he never left the vessel, his reputation as a pianist was renowned that Jelly Roll Morton challenged him to a piano duel after hearing of his skill.
A record producer even brought the recording apparatus onto the vessel and cut a demo record of a 1900 original composition. The recorded music was created by 1900 as he gazed at a girl that he found attractive.
At the end, the story flashed back to the real time. Max was trying to lure 1900 out of the ship. Having served as a hospital ship in World War II, the ship was scheduled to be scuttled and sunk far offshore. Max got onto the ship with the recording 1900 made. He played the recording and hoped to attract 1900's attention. When it did, Max tried to convince 1900 to leave the ship. But he failed, the Virginian blew up and sank with 1900.
Social, historical and cultural context
Around 1900s, the population of America grew fast because of immigration. The immigration brought culture of other countries into America and got some impacts on the music. 1910s was the Ballroom Decade in America. Traditional Waltz was replaced by ragtime, blues and jazz played by black Americans. In 1916, American music entered the Jazz Age and jazz became American popular music afterwards.
Since the story mainly took place on the vessel, the film did not describe the society, nor the historical events in detail, neither that of America nor Europe. However, we can deduce the popular culture of the American upper class at that time by listening to the music played by 1900, a talented pianist who was the main character of the film, for the people in the ballroom on the Virginian. What he played were mainly jazz or blues, which was dovetailed with the historical context.
Associate power of music on human experience
From the name of this film, it is not difficult to tell that the film was somehow a biography of 1900. It was a story about the heroic man’s life, a fantasy or even a tall tale. To show the legendary figure of 1900, the film...