Films that Feature the Violin
© 2020 Goh Tong Keat
The Red Violin
The Red Violin was a 1998 multi-national film that followed the story of a mysterious red-varnished violin over five centuries, across different cities from its making in Cremona, to Vienna, Oxford, Shanghai, and finally ended up in an auction in Montreal.
What attracted violin lovers to this film was the many scenes of violin playing and the Academy Award winning film score by John Corigliano, with the violin part in the film recorded by Joshua Bell. Corigliano later adapted this film score into various concert versions.
Le Concert was a 2009 French comedy-drama that tells of the story of Andrei Filipov, former director of the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra who was fired for hiring Jewish musicians and was now working as a janitor at the theatre. One day, Andrei intercepted a concert invitation and secretly decided to gather his former musicians to perform in Paris in the place of the Bolshoi Orchestra. He insisted on having Anne-Marie Jacquet to perform the Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto. The story continues to unfold a hidden secret that Andrei has been keeping from Anne-Marie that involves her mother. The movie ended with a triumph performance of the Tchaikovsky’s concerto.
The actress for the role Anne-Marie, Mélanie Laurent was not a trained violinist, but she took some lessons in order to play that role. Most trained musicians can quickly point out that the violin playing in the film was fake, but nonetheless, it is still an enjoyable film especially for classical music lovers.
Ladies in Lavender
Ladies in Lavender was a 2004 English film that once again had Joshua Bell playing its original soundtrack. The film score was composed by Nigel Hess. It was a beautiful film set in a fishing village of the coastal Cornwall. The story tells of a young and talented Polish violinist who was washed ashore following a ship crash. Two elderly sisters who lived by the shore saved him and nursed him back to health. One of the sisters began to develop feelings for this young violinist, but eventually he had to leave them in pursue of his career as a violinist. The film ended graciously with the two sisters travelling to London to attend his debut performance.
The Devil’s Violinist
The Devil’s Violinist was a 2013 film that tells the story of Niccolò Paganini. Regardless of the credibility of the film on the life of the Italian violinist-composer, violin lovers do not need another reason to watch David Garrett’s acting debut as he takes on the role of Paganini here.
David Garett played many of Paganini’s pieces in the film and his own arrangement of “Io Ti Penso Amore” (from 2nd movement of Paganini's Concerto No.4) with soprano Andrea Deck.
High Strung was a 2016 American film about dance and music. The story followed Ruby, a dance student who received scholarship to study at the Manhattan Conservatory of Arts, and Johnny, a busking violinist at the subway in New York City. Ruby is talented in the classical dance, while Johnny prefers the improvisational. Their lives quickly get entangled and they fell in love with each other.
The violin playing scenes in the film at times may seem ludicrous and unreal to actual violin players. Despite that, it was an uplifting and entertaining film that has received some decent reviews.