Daniel B. Clendenin | www.journeywithjesus.net | 05/16/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Don Plutarco Hidalgo is an aging and illiterate peasant farmer, but he still plays the violin with his one good hand. His son plays the guitar and his grandson collects the spare change as they play in restaurants and bars, then sleep on the streets at night. But their real passion is the guerilla movement of other peasants who are resisting the oppressive government. When the army raids, loots and torches their little village, the guerilla movement is stranded in the dense mountain jungles without their cache of weapons. Plutarco borrows a mule and returns to their village, telling the occupying soldiers that he wants to check his crops. At his age, he's able to convince the soldiers, and the commander takes a shine to Plutarco's violin playing. I won't spoil just where that violin takes this powerful film about oppression and liberation, only to say that as the film itself demonstrates, it's the stuff of multi-generational songs sung at peasant campfires. Filmed in black and white, in Spanish with English sub-titles."
One of the Most Amazing Films
J. Tamez | Los Ranchos, NM | 02/23/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Extremely compelling film about an old farmer, Plutarco, and his violin. Joined by his son and grandson, Plutarco travels the countryside playing his music to earn money. When the military takes over the village and prevents Plutarco from returning home, Plutarco strikes up a friendship with the army commander, hoping to charm his way back into the village. Plutarco must return to the village because of a secret he has hidden there.
"The Violin" has become the most awarded Mexican film in history. A must see!"
Remarkable and memorable!
Rizzo | Denver, CO | 03/02/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The story is about an old grandfather, Plutarco, his son Genaro, and the grandson Lucio who smuggle weapons to rebels, an soon get caught up in a suspenseful battle for their lives, their dignity, protecting their land, their home. The opening scene depicts brutality, torture, rape and that is enough to set the tone of the movie. You don't see what is happening, you can only imagine. The scene during the first several minutes is the limit of that violence and cruelity for the entire movie.
Plutarco, an aging musician plays the violin with one hand and with his violin, he becomes entangled with the army while the rebels plot to overtake and protect their homes. Meanwhile, Plutarco makes an attempt to recover ammunition he has hidden from the army and give to the rebels. While suspicious of his violin, the army leader is interested in the playing of the violin.
Director, writer and producer of the film, Francisco Vargas has not defined a time or a place that the action takes place. In my opinion, it is anytime, and any Latin American country, or the world for that matter.
For increased intensity, it is shot in black and white and it adds to the cold impersonal mood and stark existence. Color would add warmth and the film is not about that. There are beautiful scenes in black and white; especially where the octogenarian Plutarco tells his grandson the story of how "it" all starts. During this short storytelling, the focus is on the fire smoldering or the dancing flames.
In addition to the remarkable story, the great directing, memorable scenes, comes the protagonist, Don Plutarco, a non-actor with amazing ability to carry out this important film. It is said outside the film that he did have a hand missing since childhood and he is a musician. The film garnered ant a huge number of awards. Great acting, great story, great movie. .....Rizzo "
Excited to finally be able to purchase this film
Dana J. Haselton | Nashville, TN | 06/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I saw this film at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival. Fabulous. Stunning black and white cinematography. Slow, but a sadly accurate story capturing the way of life of the struggle."
Narratively Clichéd, but Visually Stunning.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 06/17/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Writer/director Francisco Vargas doesn't cover any new territory in "The Violin", but he brings familiar themes to the screen in a particularly beautiful style. In an unnamed Latin American nation, three generations of the Hidalgo family travel the countryside as itinerant musicians. Don Plutarco (Angel Tavira) is a violinist missing a hand. His son Genaro (Gerardo Taracena) plays guitar, while grandson Lucio (Dagoberto Gama) collects the money. But Genaro has other reasons for leaving his village to vagabond: He buys arms for rebel guerilla forces. Upon returning to their village, the men find the population displaced and government solders terrorizing their comrades. But a stash of ammunition is still on the Hidalgo farm, undiscovered. Plutarco uses his violin in a ploy to recover it.
"The Violin" is black-and-white, reminiscent of Italian neo-realism in its style and its politics. It proceeds at a measured pace, lingering on sights, sounds, and faces, with spare dialogue. Although it reminded me of Italian neo-realism, "The Violin" has its own distinct earthiness, not exactly like anything I've seen before, and it's quite beautiful. The action seems to take place in Mexico, but the time and place are never specified, presumably because the battle between government and rebel forces is intended to be generic. The characters are populist cliches: An honest, uncomplicated old man, noble peasants, heroic revolutionaries, and sadistic soldiers. Predictably, Plutarco speaks of the native, pagan religion, not Catholicism. Though I found the story tired, "The Violin" is one of the most visually arresting films I've seen in recent years and well worth seeing to immerse yourself in the style. In Spanish with optional English subtitles.
The DVD (Film Movement 2008): This disc is from the Film Movement DVD-of-the-Month Club. In addition to the feature, there is a short film called "Un Bisou Pour le Monde" (A Kiss for the World) (7 min) by director Cyril Paris. It's about an insolent elementary school student who tears and then tapes a newspaper back together so as to change the headlines. In French with English subtitles. There are also text bios of 3 actors and director Francisco Vargas, a theatrical trailer (2 min), and trailers for some of Film Movement's other releases."