In 17th century Italy, master violinmaker Nicolo Bussotti (Carlo Cecchi) creates his finest work in anticipation of the birth of his first child. When his wife and child die during the birth, Bussotti finishes the violin in a state of profound grief. Over the next three centuries, the instrument travels slowly throughout Europe and eventually to China, inspiring passion and obsession in the life of each successive owner. Finally, the battered violin joins a collection of fine instruments to be auctioned in present-day Montreal. Brought in to appraise the collection, expert Charles Morritz (Samuel L. Jackson) quietly begins to suspect the overlooked violin might be the lost Bussotti masterpiece.


Francois Giraud's new film is certainly ambitious. The Red Violin follows the life of a red violin (duh) over three hundred years, and chronicles the stories of the people that it encounters. It stars, among others, Samuel L. Jackson, Carlo Cecchi, Irene Graziola, Anita Laurenzi, Jen-Luc Bideau, Christoph Koncz, Greta Scacchi, Jason Flemying, Sylvia Chang, Liu Zi Feng, Monique Mercure, Don McKellar, Colm Feore, and more. It is certainly an impressive cast, full of well known American, Italian, and Chinese actors.

At the beginning of the film, the wife of an Italian violin maker, pregnant with their child, goes to get her fortune read. She doesn't realize that the fortune is not hers, but he violin's. As time moves on, the violin travels to an orphage in Vienna, a concert house in England, China in the midst of the Cultural Revolution, and to a present day auction house in Montreal. The settings are varied and the cinematography is gorgeous. Each story has its own unique feel to it. The only disappointing thing is that except for the present day, each story, intriguing at first, becomes easily predictable, and about halfway through each one, you know what is going to happen and are just waiting for the next one to begin. Each story is intercut with a little bit of Jackson in the present day, and as more of the violin's life is revealed, more of Jackson's story is also told.

The idea of following an inanimate object as it passes through the hands of people is not new. ABC tried unsuccessfully a couple of years ago with their series Gun.. Here, Giraud does an decent job with the idea. You can't help but be riveted by John Corigliano's score, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen with violin solos by Joshua Bell. Overall, if some time was sliced off of each story, and of the entire 2 hours plus running time, the life of the red violin could have been much more compelling.


In 1681, master violin-maker Nicolo Bussotti of Cremona finishes his last and most prized instrument: a violin varnished with the blood of his young wife, Anna, who died in childbirth. From that moment, Anna Bussotti's soul guides the destiny of the Red Violin in an epic journey through the centuries.

In late eighteenth-century Vienna, we meet Kaspar Weiss, a young prodigy, and his uncompromising master Georges Poussin. A century later, in Oxford, the violin intrudes on a torrid romance between a decadent virtuoso, Frederick Pope, and his mistress, Victoria Byrd. Decades later, in a Shanghai caught up in the maelstrom of China's Cultural Revolution, the violin finds refuge with Xiang Pei, a party official torn between her passion for western music and an unwavering duty to Chairman Mao.

The journey ends in present-day Montréal, where the Red Violin is being sold at a much-publicized auction. It is here that Charles Morritz, a renowned expert from New York City, encounters the instrument and discovers its long-lost secret.

 Director: François Girard

Born in Lac Saint-Jean, Quebec, François Girard studied communications in Québec City and Montréal. His films and art videos have received some forty international awards. Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993), Girard's acclaimed feature, received four Genie Awards from the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television including best film and best director, in addition to numerous international awards. His concert film Peter Gabriel's Secret World (1994) won a 1995 Grammy award for Best Music Video–long form, while Le Dortoir (1991), his adaptation of the play by Montréal's Carbone 14 theatrical company, received, among other awards, an International Emmy and a Gold FIPA at the 1992 International Audiovisual Program Festival in Cannes.

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