The story of a married silkworm merchant-turned-smuggler in 19th century France traveling to Japan for his town's supply of silkworms after a disease wipes out their African supply. During his stay in Japan, he becomes obsessed with the concubine of a local baron.
In present day Montreal, a famous Nicolo Bussotti violin, known as "the red violin," is being auctioned off. During the auction, we flash back to the creation of the violin in 17th century Italy, and follow the violin as it makes its way through an 18th century Austrian monastery, a violinist in 19th century Oxford, China during the Cultural Revolution, and back to Montreal, where a collector tries to establish the identity and the secrets of "the red violin." Written by
Sean Gallagher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Joshua Bell, who was the solo violinist on the sound track, was also the stunt violinist. When non-musician actors needed to be shown playing the violin in close-up, Bell would hide behind the actor, and his left hand would be the hand seen by the camera on the neck of the violin. According to an interview with Bell on NPR, he was scolded several times by director François Girard for overacting. See more »
During the Red Guard struggle meeting in Shanghai, the leader says "There's nothing as beautiful as our traditional music" and then they throw the violin away saying "Put this down with the other 'great olds'!" In fact, the opposite was true during the Cultural Revolution: traditional Chinese music (such as the hu chin) was made illegal as one of the four "Great Olds" while western classical music was considered "bourgeois". Both styles of music were purged during the Maoist era; only Socialist slogan songs were allowed. See more »
There are a few great films about artists like Camille Claudelle, Goya in Bordeaux and Tous Les Matins du Monde (All the Mornings of the World). But this is the only film I can recall about a piece of art, and the remarkable journey it takes, with many people through distant lands, over hundreds of years. With all of it fitting nicely into 2 hours of great cinema, drawn from a most exceptional story. Perhaps I should say stories - as there are many, and of course the stories are about people.
I don't think a great cast necessarily means famous names, lengthy reputations, or even a lot of acting experience - but one that simply works well. Meaning actors (or acting ability) that fit the characters, with a flow of believability or at least the right feel. Some of the best movies I've ever seen have had several cast members that were never heard of before or after being seen in the one film I saw them in. Here everyone fits. From the child prodigy in Vienna to the instrument expert in Montreal (Samuel Jackson) - this film is well cast. Shot on location in at least 4 different countries, this is storytelling at it's best. One of my favorite films, it is one of the truest examples of what good movie making is all about. It also happens to have an inanimate object (a violin) as one of the stars of the show.
Like so many of the rare occasions in your life when something happening seems like a dream come true, it would sound like a fairy tale if you told it. It's that way here. This is a real gem of a movie and a bit of a fairy tale, but it is one for grown ups . . . and a most delightful one at that.