The film tells the story of a 1731 Stradivarius once owned by Israeli Philharmonic founder Bronislaw Huberman. Stolen in 1936 it was was rediscovered in 1985; American virtuoso Joshua Bell purchased it and plays it during his concerts.
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>
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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