249 user 92 critic

The Red Violin (1998)

Le violon rouge (original title)
A perfect red-colored violin inspires passion, making its way through three centuries over several owners and countries, eventually ending up at an auction where it may find a new owner.


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Won 1 Oscar. Another 19 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Carlo Cecchi ...
Nicolo Bussotti (Cremona)
Irene Grazioli ...
Anna Bussotti (Cremona)
Anita Laurenzi ...
Cesca (Cremona)
Tommaso Puntelli ...
Apprentice (Cremona)
Samuele Amighetti ...
Boy (Cremona)
Jean-Luc Bideau ...
Georges Poussin (Vienna)
Aldo Brugnini ...
Assistant (Cremona)
Christoph Koncz ...
Kaspar Weiss (Vienna)
Clotilde Mollet ...
Antoinette Pussin (Vienna)
Florentín Groll ...
Anton von Spielmann (Vienna)
Father Richter (Vienna)
Rainer Egger ...
Brother Christophe (Vienna)
Paul Koeker ...
Brother Gustav (Vienna)
Brother Michael (Vienna)
Josef Mairginter ...
Brother Franz (Vienna)


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 <naes@cgocable.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


An instrument of passion. A shocking secret. An extraordinary journey. See more »

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




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Release Date:

11 June 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Red Violin  »


Box Office


$10,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$129,564, 13 November 1998

Gross USA:

$9,473,382, 14 November 1999
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The movie was inspired by the Stradivari violin known as The Red Mendelssohn. See more »


When Xiang Pei first takes out the violin to play for her son, the violin is missing a G-string. Later when Xiang Pei takes the violin out to show to Chou Yuan, the violin has all four strings. See more »


Charles Morritz: What do you do when the thing you most wanted, so perfect, just comes?
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O Richard! O mon Roi!
from "Richard Coeur de Lion"
Composed by André-Modeste Grétry
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Absolutely wonderful
6 July 1999 | by See all my reviews

I thought this might be one of those films that would be "good for me" to see. I was mildly intrigued by descriptions of the story I had read and with the trailer, so I thought to take a chance. I took someone very close to me, an actual violin prodigy. Coincidently, her and I have recently been searching for a decent violin for her that is affordable by actual humans, so we could relate to parts of the plot first-hand. We arrived to a very thin theater in one of those mega-complex theaters, and while everyone was queuing up next-door to see the latest blockbuster from Hollywood I settled into an amazingly comfortable seat with an excellent view and prepared for whatever might come.

I was shocked. This film turned out to be clearly one of the best movie going experiences I have had in ages. We see this as the story unfolds and is creatively told through the reading of the violin makers wife's fortune with a deck of Tarot cards. It is the story of a part of the life of a violin; of the humans who would dare to possess her beauty. A masterpiece of a craftsman's art, it is desired by many for it's acoustic perfection. But, as Tolstoy said, "how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness." Or more interestingly, from Saint Augustine: "Beauty is indeed a good gift of God; but that the good may not think it a great good, God dispenses it even to the wicked." There seems to be a curse on this instrument as it brings ill to those who manage to possess it. This makes the ending especially eerie.

An original, imaginative and thought provoking story that engaged one's mind as American films almost never do. I will not describe more of the plot, it's far too good to ruin. The memory of this film will be one long treasured.

Oh, as for my guest, the honest-to-God prodigy: she said the music was magnificent (it was) even though a real musician could tell the actors weren't playing, it was well done.

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