Sun 23 Jun 2013
This ambitious project realized 15 years ago and directed by Francois Girard uses a not completely new pretext for its story line retracing 300 years of history of a superb violin manufactured at the end of the 17th century, a violin born in tragedy and seeming to carry unusual passion and power which marks the destinies of all its successive owners. When watching this film we cross centuries, countries, continents following the destiny of an unusual instrument which seems to be hiding the special gifts making wonderful sounds, but also a curse for the fate of its owners. An object that ignites art and passion.
The story telling predicts by a few years the novels of Dan Brown and the like, and we deal in parallel with the chronological told story of the violin and with the intrigues behind the scenes of the public auction in which it is sold at the end of the 20th century. As the story develops we understand that the participants in the bid are also related to the history of the instrument, descendants of its previous owners, connected also through a destiny predicted in cards of tarot, which is also revealed gradually as the story progresses.
15 years after the film was made its music and some of its independent story segments survive better than the whole. Violinist Joshua Bell was the musical consultant and probably played much of the score, which makes for some very interesting but out of the beaten track music. I liked it, but do not expect to hear any famous scores, you will need to listen carefully to understand the passion and appreciate the quality. The short stories in the history are all well written but also a little bit conventional, characters are drawn with attention, and love for music. The connection between the episodes is not so well made, the five cards can be a transition trick that works well on TV, but the jumps in time and the changes of hands of the owners are too sketchy for a big screen movie. The final episode (of the public auction) introduces an element of suspense which I found again to be a little too conventional and not really in tune with the rest of the story. A little bit like a musical composition with many beautiful passages but lacking strength in composition and a ‘finale’ to remember.