Reviewed by Flink Del Dinky.
The The Red Violin was written by Francois Girard and Don McKellar and directed by Francois Girard. The only actor I recognized was Samuel L. Jackson.
I rented this film on video and had back to back viewings. That's something I never do. In this case I enjoyed the second viewing even more than the first.
The directing and cinematography are done well, they stayed within their abilities, their budget, or both. As
such they give little to the film but nor do they get in the way or distract from the story. It's the story you'll
watch it (twice) for anyway.
I also enjoyed the sets, costumes, and the performances of the many actors. I suppose the lead character is
the violin itself, I think Samuel L. Jackson's character gets the most screen time. Still, his character didn't really
feel like a lead, especially since his character doesn't get much screen time until the last segment of the story.
The Red Violin is a story that spans 300 or 400 hundred years and ends in the present day. It's set in Europe,
China, and finally North America. It's told in Italian, German, French (a bit), Chinese, and English. All non-English
language is subtitled (the sub titles are very good, the best I've seen, very easy to read). Much of the story is told in the non-English languages, and I found it added greatly to the texture of the film.
The story burns from both ends as it's literally composed from the beginning of the violins history, just prior to
its 'birth', as well as from the end of the the story. It does this through flash forwards and flashbacks. Usually a
lot of flash forwards and flashbacks make for a sloppy story but not in this case. It also sequences time in an
odd but pleasing way within its anchor points.
It begins with a violin maker in his workshop in Italy. He has a young wife with child. The wife receives a tarot
card reading from her house servant. These two locations, the workshop and the wife's tarot reading, compose the
the flash forward anchor point for the story.
The anchor point for the present day is an auction in (I think) Montreal. It's from this point that the flashbacks take place.
There are many diverse stories told between these two anchor points. All
inextricably weaved together in a complex tapestry of thought and emotion by
this Red Violin. The film is emotionally intense but not in a laugh and cry kind of way, rather in a thoughtful, intellectual, and often profound way. I
really felt for the violin and was even frightened for it a couple of times.
As I said earlier, even the sequencing of events at the anchor points is played with. If you're looking for a
traditional linear story this isn't it. You have to rise to this stories level to enjoy it. You have to view it on its
terms. If you can do that I think you'll be pleased with it. I certainly was.
The film just has a very high cool factor. Although the film didn't have the budget to meet it ambitions it still manages to impress.
ps. My favorite character was the child prodigy Kaspar Weiss, what do you call his style of violin music? I think
I'd like to hear more like that. I also like the Gypsy stuff. I didn't like Pope's music except what he was playing
at the end of his segment. I don't know about music any pointers would be welcome.