Chen Kaige, director of the Oscar┬(r)-nominated* Farewell My Concubine, composes a richly imagined and 'tender symphony (Screen International) about love, ambition and destiny in China's high-pressure world of classical m... more »usic. Surging with warmth, humanity and a sense of humor (The Hollywood Reporter), this lyrical, enchanting heartwarmer (Variety) is a 'sure-fire crowd-pleaser (Los Angeles Times)! When violin prodigy Xiaochun and his father headto Beijing seeking fame and fortune, they soon discover a fierce world of cutthroat ambition. But when Xiaochun is adopted by a famous music tutor, success finally seems within reachuntil a shocking discovery begins to unravel his entire world and the boy must make the most difficult choice ofhis life. Can he achieve the fame his father had always hoped for without losing the extraordinary passion that sets him apart? *1993: Foreign Language Film« less
"This may very well be one of the most fabulous and wonderful movies I've ever seen. By the end of the movie you'll have filled buckets, but these are not the kind of emotionally draining tears as you'd have from, say, To Live by Zhang Yimou. This is a movie about hope, companionship, life, passion, triumph, and love. But let's not forget music. Actually, it didn't even take half a minute (honestly) of watching this movie for me to realize that it was going to blow me away. Even while the opening credits are rolling, the imagery is spectacular, and the music already has you under its spell. It's gentle, yet it has some sort of... well, "energy" to it. Chen Kaige follows through excellently, keeping this energy throughout the whole movie.Anyway, one thing is for sure. This movie is about feeling. Writing a review of this movie is futile because by the time you manipulate the English language enough to try to convey the feeling this movie leaves you with, you're left with something too confusing to decipher. So just watch this movie, and feel it."
"The film begins with beautiful violin music played by a 13 year old Chinese boy, Xiaochen. In one of the early scenes he plays his violin music to ease the pain of child-birth by a young lady in the next room. Xiaochen's father is a humble cook in a popular local restaurant who is very proud of his son's unique violin playing talent. The father sacrifices his life-savings and security by moving to Beijing to secure violin-lessons to enhance the son's natural talent. The father over-hears two people praising the musical abilities of an eccentric violin teacher during a performance at a music academy. The father is subsumed by his goal to develop the skills of his son, an unpolished violin-playing child prodigy. The teacher-pupil relationship is strong but eventually is strained due to a contest of wills when Xiaochen proves his violin skills are equal (perhaps greater) than those of his teacher. The dad realizes his son requires a more challenging environment and seeks to find a professor with more musical knowledge and vision. There are several themes that are thoroughly explored within this film. The first is ... will Xiaochen eventually understand and appreciate how much his dad has personally sacrificed for his son to succeed? Another theme reveals how two provincial people manage to survive in Beijing, a major hustling and bustling city. The third theme explores whether or not Xiaochen will achieve the discipline required to polish and refine his natural violin playing skills to become a prize-winning performer and bring honor to his father.
When they first arrive in the railroad station at Beijing, the crowds are overwhelming. The dad appears to a country bumpkin who eventually develops street-wise savvy and survival skills in the city. He finds a job as a bicycle-riding courier. While searching for an apartment with his dad, Xiaochen sees a self-centered beautiful young lady, on whom he develops an adolscent crush. It turns out she is a resident at the same apartment building where they live. The young lady has male admirers who shower her with gifts but unfortunately, one special boyfriend eludes her. When she sees him out with another woman, she creates a scene in which she contrives to be the betrayed wife, feigning Xiaochen to be their son whom the father appears to have neglected. This is one of many amusing scenes in the film.
One of the major conficts in the film revolves around Xiaochen's huge adolescent blunder, he sells his one valuable possession, his violin, to buy Lili, the love of his life, a mink coat she desired. The remainder of the film attempts to resolve the problems created by this major catastrophe. New tensions arise between father and son. The father through hook and by crook obtains a position for Xiaochen with one of the finest music professors at the academy. Xiaochen proves he has the moxie and discipline to further refine his violin playing. The climatic resolution is reached as Xiaochen proves he deserves the trust, faith and love his father has given him. The musical performances are explosive and riveting. This film is a feast for the five senses. This film spins with psychological undertones and is well balanced with equal and deeply satisfying heart-warming resolutions to conflicts. It is a wonderful story of how a thirteen year old boy develops into a loving and talented human being. Erika Borsos (erikab93)"
It truly touched my heart!
a violin enthusiast | Houston, TX United States | 07/11/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The best character portrayed in this movie, in my opinion, is the father. His manners may not be refined or polished, yet his love for his son Xiaochun is so utterly unconditional & unselfish. With minimal education and music training, he however does know a good violinist when he hears one (watch the scene where he wholeheartedly cheers for the already established & famous young violinist's performance after he sneaks in the concert), and that's why he seeks out Prof. Yu for his son. Yeah, he could be manipulative at times, but he is simply behaving like any other ordinary parent who wants the best for his child. The scene in which the father went to the music shop looking for the old violin just breaks my heart! Anyone who has played the violin long enough knows how attached violinists are to their instruments. It's like the extension to the player's heart; losing it is no less serious than losing part of your soul & memory. I always regard the violin sound to be the closest, of all the musical instruments, to the expressions and feelings of the human emotions. At the end, perhaps that's what gives Xiaochun the courage to choose what's really important and closest to his heart."
kabuki | Arizona | 12/23/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After reading some of these other reviews, I'm just not convinced we're all reviewing the same film. This is a fantastic film. The characters are wonderful, the music is outstanding and the story will have you laughing and crying. It's a touching story of the love between a poor father and son in a class conscious society. The father loves the son and is willing to sacrifice everything in order for his son to become a famous violin player. It's a wholesome film (and no the girl is not a prostitute, she's a night club worker that juggles rich boyfriends) and one that I'm so very glad I didn't miss! It's probably one of the best movies I've seen."
One of the most beautiful films I've ever seen
An amateur musician and film lover | Michigan | 04/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This was without a doubt one of the most visually and emotionally beautiful films I've ever seen. The storyline, themes and characters were relevant in any culture. The imagery and filming techniques were superb. The music was well chosen not only to match the emotional tone of each scene, but also to serve as additional metaphors for the main themes of the film (for example, "Consolation" by Liszt.) In fact, the quality of the musical performances would be reason enough to see this film even without the intriguing and moving plot.
I was impressed with the very real and not over-done acting abilities of the major players, which fortunately came through even when watching the film in another language with subtitles, and was critical to carry off this heart-tugging story without seeming sappy.
Best of all, the movie made me cry and laugh and cry some more, and I literally sat on the edge of my seat during the highly emotional and cleverly-filmed climax. I left the theater feeling drained and yet refreshed, and it made me appreciate even more the wonderful opportunities that I've had growing up in this country, and the sacrifices that parents in any land make for their children. I have purchased the film as one I know will give me a lift anytime I watch it."