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In an unnamed Latin American country that closely resembles Mexico, the government fights a rural insurgency with torture, assault, rape, and murder. Soldiers descend on a town, cutting off the rebels from their cache of ammunition hidden in a field. A family of grandfather, son, and grandson are among the rebels in the hills. The grandfather, with his violin over his shoulder, tries to pass the checkpoint, ostensibly to tend his corn crop. The commanding officer lets him pass but insists on a daily music lesson. Can the old man ferry out the ammunition in his violin case under the soldiers' nose? Written by
Although it flirts with agitprop and its stereotypes, The Violin is ultimately a small, moving, human drama centered on the perseverance, against a ruthless military government, of a poor, frail, self-effacing grandfather and his family. The late Ángel Tavira is excellent as the grandfather -- the human face of an underground resistance -- whose weapon of choice is a violin. The long shots, in black-and-white, of Tavira on his borrowed mule reminded me of the scene in The Grapes of Wrath where Tom Joad leads his family of Dust Bowl émigrés across the ridge of a California hill or the panoramic shots of Sicilian hillsides in Godfather II. It's man in nature, man against a heavily armed nature, and tragically nature wins. Good independent film.
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