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Speaking in Strings
Speaking in Strings
Actor: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Director: Paola di Florio
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
NR     2001     1hr 13min

Described as "possessed, "frightening," and "brilliant," Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg has either enraged or enraptured critics while earning herself the nickname "the bad girl of the violin." Academy Award® nominee Speaking ...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
Director: Paola di Florio
Creators: Peter Rader, Paola di Florio, Ellen Goldwasser, Cindy Rosenberg, Elizabeth Rodgers, Julie Du Brow, Lilibet Foster
Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts, Documentary
Sub-Genres: Music Video & Concerts, Classical, Documentary, Biography, Docurama
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 06/26/2001
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1999
Release Year: 2001
Run Time: 1hr 13min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Talented and Troubled
Rebecca Johnson | Washington State | 05/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I watched this movie with a sense of awe I have not felt for any other musician. Not only does Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg have a great sense of humor, she if overflowing with creativity and pure sassiness. Beneath her animated surface there also seems to be a hurricane of emotions which finds its release in her dynamic musical career.

It is as if Nadja becomes the music she is playing or is it just that the music possesses her? She is intense in her original interpretation and hauntingly expressive style. The music does not seem to be coming from the violin, but from deep within Nadja.

You have to ask yourself why anyone so talented and filled with sensitivity would consider ending their life. Especially when you are one of the world's preeminent violinists.

I believe personally that very creative people can also be struggling from a deep depression or unfulfilled longing of the soul. While Nadja sought obvious release through her playing, I think writers find the same expression through words. Both can alternate between utter hopelessness and extreme creativity. At times writing and music almost seem to be "born of pain."

What is so powerful about her story is how her mother tells her it takes courage to be happy. How true! It is far easier to give up in light of your circumstances. It takes a deep inner strength and sense of hope to continue in life when you would rather give up. Yet what a talent she has. While her talents were unquestionable at the time, her talent for living still needed to be developed. She had a passion for music, but no passion for life.

Not only do we learn how Nadja's father abandoned her family when she was a very young child, we also learn about her regret of never meeting her father. It seems from what she says in this documentary, work was first in her life and she put health and love second and third. She might be interested to know that smokers have a higher risk of developing depression. In the movie, she seemed to be a chain smoker.

"Cries of the Heart" by Ravi Zacharias might be helpful for anyone going through what Nadja seems to have experienced. "Manic Depression and Creativity" by D. Jablow Hershman discusses Beethoven and other great talents through the ages. The Omega-3 Connection by Andrew L. Stoll would also be worth a read as nutrition is always important.

Where does the love come from when you can't supply it yourself? What makes life worth living when even your own amazing talent isn't satisfying the longings of the soul?

Nadja says she believes in God, but at times he seems really busy. There is definitely a difference between knowing there is a God and having a relationship with him. Or at least a reason for living that goes beyond this temporary existence.

This musician's life shows how material success and fame means little when maybe what we all really want is love and a happy healthy life. Not to mention hope in this life and hope for the life beyond.

I truly hope Nadja has found peace and ways to deal with the sheer explosion of creativity surging from her very soul.

An eccentric, wild and unorthodox story of a musician's passionate existence.

~The Rebecca Review"
Nadja Rocks
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This film, while giving the impression of exploring NSS's turbulent life and her continuous metamorphosis to a better version of herself, actually emphasizes her enigma. And what's more interesting, you do not realize this until you watch the movie again. P>Okay, maybe it's just me. But NSS's "existential crisis" was triggered by a love gone wrong, and you have to take her word for it, but you don't know much more about it. What kind of love could bring this brilliant person (or anyone else, for that matter) so much pain and desperation? That part seems to be held back on purpose, and its absence was very obvious. And then, also, maybe it's justme, but you just want to reach out and give the big kid inside this prodigy a big hug...The editing was brilliant - you have to watch the movie more than once to get the chronology in order (if you want to read into it more than necessary, as I do) and to understand NSS' evolutions. At the very least, the movie makes you appreciate classical music as a visual performance (rather than merely audio). Although when NSS plays that violin, you can just close your eyes and listen to her music - it's magical. In the end, you feel you know NSS a little bit more, and you almost feel guilty for watching this very personal movie and intruding into her private life. NSS - despite the obvious blank spaces in the movie - is as transparent as a person could be. She fills in the spaces for you. And you cannot help but cheer her on whenever she takes that bow.I am ready for the SEQUEL!"
Nadja Rocks!
Rebecca Johnson | 08/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"You have to watch this movie more than once to hear the words spoken in strings. If you are a classical music critic, this movie is probably not for you, because it tells a story of a genius possessed, damned, and redeemed. It gives you an insight into Nadja's continuous metamorphosis into what she is now. Her honesty almost makes you feel guilty for having invaded her privacy by watching the film.But you watch it after the first time and you see beyond the tough girl, world-famous musician that we think she is. The film, despite its marvelous editing, leaves one thing out - The Heart - the forces that propel NSS to the heavens and throw her back to earth. And then the absence of this huge thing - loves lost and loves gained - becomes so obvious. Fortunately, the answers lie not in the pictures or words, but the nuances. As I said, the editing is very CRAFTY. You have to read between the lines and hope that there is s SEQUEL somewhere.At the end of the film, you just want to reach out and give this big kid a big hug, because despite the accolades, you know that she yearns for the same things you and I do."
Five stars all the way
Ruth W. Stidger | Dallas, TX USA | 04/25/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"How could anyone who loves the violin rate this at less than five stars? Nadja's passionate playing leaves me quite breathless."