Mounted in high lavish style, from the opening strains to coda, The Red Violin pays homage to the careful uses of color and composition without bothering to support these qualities with any real substance. Oh, it's a class... more » act on the surface all the way, while failing on nearly every other level to convince. The story tells the story, revealing precious little else. The 17th-century Cremonese instrument-maker Niccolo Bussotti finishes his final violin with a curious red varnish, the secret of which spans the film, yet will come as a surprise only to the very sleepy. The odd voyage of this unique violin through history is then explored from one episode to the next, from child prodigy to gypsies to Victorian virtuoso to a clandestine enclave of art lovers in Shanghai during the Cultural Revolution. This is all framed by the violin's rediscovery in present day by instrument appraiser Charles Morritz (Samuel L. Jackson), for whom the perfect instrument strikes a resonant chord. The main scheme of the film, an object connecting a number of seemingly disparate stories, has been used many times, most notably in Max Ophuls's La Ronde. But while this approach is employed elsewhere to cause one scene to reverberate against another, The Red Violin is content to leave each episode thematically unconnected with any of the others. On the decorative level, the film may satisfy many viewers with its sensuous attention to tone and detail, as well as its eclectic and expertly performed score. But as narrative it is very slight. Just pierce the pretty crust of this puff pastry and gaze in wonder at the pocket of air within. --Jim Gay« less
Juli P. (Carpe-DVD) from AURORA, IL Reviewed on 4/5/2019...
Very interesting video, excellent music played by Joshua Bell, but some sex and nudity that made it not so family friendly.
THE POWER OF MUSIC...
Lawyeraau | Balmoral Castle | 10/05/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a superb film in which the star of the film is a violin known as "The Red Violin'. It is a story that begins in Italy in the late seventeenth century and ends in the twentieth century. The violin is crafted by an Italian violin maker for his unborn child and is a work of sheer love. The viewer sees this distinctive red violin travel in time, as it becomes an integral part of the life of a variety of owners, transcending culture, race, class, and talent. It ultimately ends up as an offering at an auction house.
The story is told in a series of intricately woven vignettes that are justaposed to the past and present in a series of well placed flash backs and flash forwards. The past is set in seventeenth century Italy, where the viewer sees what happens to a master violin maker's beautiful pregnant wife and unborn child. The present is set in the twentieth century at a posh auction house in Montreal, Canada, where a host of characters, who have a connection to the red violin's extraordinary and mysterious past, have gathered to bid upon it.
The film is a lushly beautiful one due to its notable cinematography. The music is exquisite, its impressive soundtrack made so by the superlative playing of violinist, Joshua Bell. The acting is uniformly stellar. The vignette of nineteenth century Victorian England virtuoso, Frederick Pope (Jason Flemyng), is wildly sensuous and erotic. There is even an quality of mysticism about the film, as the story in Italy begins with a fortune teller's predictions, which the violin maker's pregnant wife mistakenly thinks is about her, when in reality the fortuneteller is foretelling the future that lies in store for the red violin.
In the twentieth century, Charles Morritz (Samuel L. Jackson) is an expert violin appraiser who has an appreciation of the now legendary red violin and covets it. While authenticating it for the auction house, he learns the secret of the distinctive red varnish that earns this instrument its sobriquet, though the viewer will, no doubt, guess its origin, long before he does. Morritz also does something that ensures that the red violin will stay with one who appreciates its value, so that the violin will have almost come full circle. In the end, all the elements come together beautifully, as the director, Francois Girard, deftly and seamlessly, weaves the violin's past with its present. There is not one discordant note in this richly complex and brilliant film. It is simply a masterpeice. Bravo!"
Passion and Music
kerridv | Redmond, Wa | 04/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Fans of the French piece "Tous les Matins du Monde" (Alain Corneau, 1991) will enjoy this creation of French-Canadian Director Francois Girard, whose prior forays into film include documentaries involving Bach Cello suites and television specials starring cellist Yo-Yo Ma. It's no wonder then that Girard was able to capture the sheer majesty and fascination of the violin; in this film we follow this captivation through the centuries. Samuel L. Jackson plays Charles Morritz, an expert in antique musical instruments. The story opens with Morritz' arrival at an auction, where a very significant and unique Bussotti violin is being sold. As the film flashbacks throughout periods of time in the violin's history, we visit its making in Cremona, Italy, its burial in the hands of a young Austrian prodigy, the musical career of a Victorian virtuoso, and its banishment from Revolutionist China. As Morritz studies the famous instrument, he unearths deep secrets about its origin, and must face the ultimate dilemma himself: "What do you do when the thing you most wanted, so perfect, just comes?"The music, composed by John Corigliano, won the 1999 Academy Award for Best Score. Violinist Joshua Bell (who also starred in the 1999 film Music of the Heart, playing himself) provides the music of the Red Violin, and was able to capture the different centuries as if he had played in them himself. The part of the Austrian music teacher Georges Poussin, played by Jean-Luc Bideau, is especially delightful in its comedic undertones; also not to be missed is the tarot card reader who is setting up the story; her role ties the film together and gives it the continuity needed in this kind of format. Overall it is a very engaging film full of passion, music, and history."
C.S.R.G. | University Park, MD United States | 01/02/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rarely do I see a movie where my mind does not wander, or where I cannot guess the "secret." The Red Violin, however, is a totally engrossing film which both held me in place and in suspense.The Red Violin's story is a simple one, using basic plot points as the basis of a life for the title character. Born of tragedy, then sea-tossed through three centuries and countless countries, the Red Violin vicariously experiences birth, death, ressurection, destructive passion, and survival-against-the-odds through the lives of its owners. The owners themselves, spellbound by the beauty of this "acoustically perfect instrument," become its enthralled "lovers."The true genius of this film is found in its structure: each vignette begins with a brief focus on one of it's new potential owners, seen at a modern-day auction. The scene then shifts back to the Violin's late 17th century birthplace, where a tarot reader turns a card and interprets a phase of the violin's life. The audience is then tossed into that phase described, where the new owner takes possession of the Italian instrument (and vice versa). Finally, the film returns to the auctioneer, and the audience discovers the connection of the potential buyer with the Red Violin's turbulent history. The director has played with in media res structure, reshuffling it and standardizing it for his purpose. One caveat: Don't be dissuaded by the personification; the filmmakers' touch is feather-lite, restricted to 1. a tune seemingly hummed by the violin into the ear of its various owner/lovers, and 2. the Seer's interpretaion of a "life" for the Red Violin.It is a good series of stories, well-told and perfectly blended. A "perfectly tuned" movie."
The gift of love, the gift of music
Annamaria Blue | Atlanta, GA | 01/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"How could I not love this movie? - It is so full of beauty, so full of love and the entire spectrum of human emotions. It has suspense and mystery. There is the beautiful music, of course, and the beautiful photography presenting us with wonderful sceneries and what appear to be perfect snapshots into historic times and places. Then there is the unique way in which the story pogresses. We are not merely following the life of this masterfully constructed violin through the centuries. Each time we jump to another time and place we also return to the presence where the violin is part of an auction of musical instruments of extraordinary value. And each time we are confronted with the presence we see just a little bit more of the auction and all the events surrounding it. Thus we march not only through time but also follow Samuel L. Jackson in his attempt to verify that he is indeed dealing with the famous "Red Violin". As much as I enjoyed the way the story was woven, as much as I loved the music, as much as I feasted my eyes, I was even more moved by the films message, - a message of love. There is a father who wants to give his yet unborn child all of his love and the gift of music. As a violin maker he does this the best way he knows how - in the form of an instrument. The perfect violin. Perfect because it will hold all the love he feels for his wife and all the love he already feels for his child, all of his wishes, and dreams for his child, all of his plans and thoughts. When he looses them both during the child's birth he can't help but to also put all of his sorrow and pain into the violin. Over the centuries, in one way or another, the knowledge, the wisdom and all the emotions contained in this perfect instrument influence its players and owners, - the violin, in turn, absorbs their feelings and emotions. And while the maker of this violin was never able to give this gift of love and music to his child, the violin's destiny may yet be fulfilled. Find out out for yourself, by watching this wonderful film."
Extraordinary Movie With a Great Soundtrack
Robert S. Newman | Grapevine, TX USA | 12/07/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
""The Red Violin" represents some of the best writing, directing and camera work I have seen in recent years. Only "American Beauty," destined to be the movie of the year come Oscar time, is more visually and emotionally appealing. Sam Jackson as the central figure does a fine job of acting and his previous roles in movies like "Pulp Fiction" and "Eve's Bayou" fortunately do not filter into his subtle interpretation of this role. Jackson is not the star, however. The journey of the violin and its secret as it passes down through 400 years of history are the real stars of the movie. Don't miss this finely crafted movie made in Canada on a paltry $15 million budget. You won't regret it."