Music drives out hate in those who are without love. She gives peace to those who are without rest, she comforts those who cry - Pablo Casals
It's a fact, and it's even become a popular quote, music soothes the soul. Indeed, between the clarinet, cello, chamber orchestra, sonata, or Bernstein... there are so many instruments, songs and musicians who help us drift away into our pleasant memories or happy thoughts.
According to Cadenceinfo, only 3% of people do not like music, which means that 97% do. A very high percentage, which has become one of the main pastimes and interests of the population. Evidenced by the creation and existence of awards for the best original music in a film or television series.
It is, therefore, natural that cinema has embraced songs, and thematic background music, to enhance their films and audience's emotions, sometimes even making music their main topic. This is particularly the case for the violin, which we're about to see, as it has helped to create many beautiful films, like a cinematic symphony!
Music and Cinema: Two Unifying Themes
A conductor, a symphony, a pianist, a backdrop of great composers, a philharmonic orchestra, these are some simple and effective elements to help showcase and enhance the beautiful musical instrument that is the violin, in a film and in the audience's experience.
A violinist is always well represented on the big screen, between concertos, symphony orchestras, and the golden age of chamber music. Directors can include a violin as an accessory, but also as almost a main character of a musical saga, helped by the genius of some great composers such as Stravinsky , Wagner, Vivaldi, or Tchaikovsky.
While we have here two unifying universal themes, music and cinema, they mingle together wonderfully. In addition, the violin is the type of stringed instrument that most of us love, and some even admire, for the professionalism of its musicians, its harmonies and the powerfully moving music it emits.
It is, therefore, easy and inspiring for a director to use the violin as the main tool or supporting character in the realisation of their film. The violin and its universal quality lends itself to becoming the star in some great movies and short films of world-renowned or regional fame. But then, which films are some of the most notable, in having used the violin as a theme or an accessory?
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Violin Movies: The Violin Teacher
The Violin Teacher is a Brazilian film that was released relatively recently in 2015. The story of this film is simple while at the same time being beautiful and fundamentally inspiring. A melody that is accompanied by great acting.
This is the story of Laerte, a talented violinist, almost a virtuoso, who fails the entrance exam of the symphonic orchestra in Sao Paulo, as he is petrified by stage fright. Eventually Laerte finds herself teaching the violin to students in a Brazilian favela, in order to make a living.
While this environment is quite tough, and outside of his comfort zone, he succeeds in building very strong relationships with the students.
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Violin Movies: Plum Chicken
Released in 2011, adapted from a Marjane Satrapi comic, Plum Chicken is a pretty strong film about the power of music (in this case, the violin), and the love it can bring. Far from a real national orchestra or philharmonic, this movie will appeal to the music lover that lives in you.
While it is obviously preferable to buy or rent the movie, rather than using UK streaming or illegal downloading, Plum Chicken is the kind of film that is worth the money. Especially because the violin, anchored in Tehran in the 1950s, is played like a beautiful siren, and will make the story sing from the beginning to the end, and this, ultimately, is all that we ask for from a movie: make us feel alive.
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Feature Film on the Violin: The Soloist
This American film is the type of story that we would like to see more often on the big screen, especially because music is a major theme. Directed by Joe Wright, and released in 2009, The Soloist is based on a true story, that of Steve Lopez, columnist for the Los Angeles Times.
This columnist, fascinated by the music produced by a homeless person with a two-stringed violin, meets him, discovers him, and eventually connects with him in trust and friendship. He discovers that this man has studied the violin for many years in a reputable school, and Steve Lopez begins writing an article about him. At the same time, he tries to bring the man back into an active life, through the prism of their new friendship and, always, the music, which remains the engine of the whole story.
This is a very beautiful film about the violin, music and art in general, about creation, but also about human relations, friendship, and how music can bring people together. Forming friendships, and, of course, creating touching movies such as this one!
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If you like the violin, you will also certainly like books on the violin.
Violin Filmography: The Concert
Released in 2009, The Concert is a film brought to life by Mélanie Laurent, through the prism of the Bolshoi orchestra, which leads the narrative thread of the film. The Concert is a story of travel, from the Soviet Union to France, from music to emotions, embodied by a large group of actors.
A movie-going experience makes sense in all ways here as it is precisely all our senses that are called into action in this movie. Indeed, throughout history, we can distinguish beautiful music in all its glory, including the instruments that interests us today: the violin, played passionately and with great talent. It's undeniable, when music is the centrepiece of a film, it often makes a great cinematic experience!
Violin Movies: The Violin
In 2007, The Violin was released, a Mexican film (or rather, drama), staged against a backdrop of political turmoir. The main characters of this film, a father and his son, lead a double life, between being guerrillas trying to overthrow their government to musicians playing music on their small farm.
Many events, fit in-line with the sometimes cruel reality of life, however, music remains the pivot, the pillar, and, once again, a great accessory giving weight to beautiful values, good feelings, and moments of grace in the film. A must-see even more so if you are interested in Mexico!
Movies on the Violin: The Melody
Released in 2017, this film, directed by Rachid Hami and including Kad Merad and Samir Guesmi, takes for its main character (who could it be?) the violin! The Melody is a fictional story of a violinist who is a little disillusioned with life, who finds himself one day as a music teacher (of the violin, to be precisely) facing a difficult class of 12 yr old students.
However, a very shy child stands out, and discovers a passion, even a real talent, for the violin, who then carries everyone along with him, including the teacher, evoking his memories of music and harmony.
The Melody is proof that the violin can be enough to hold a film together from the beginning to the end, with, as a bonus, emotions, and events worthy of a real violin novel. A very captivating film about the power of music, its unifying force, and its universal character, which unites people together, despite the negative things that can happen and the tensions that can arise between humans.
Violin Cinema: The Red Violin
The Red Violin is a film which was released in 1998, tells us the story of Nicolo Bussotti, a violin maker who, despite the death of his wife and son, decides to finish the violin he was in the midst of creating. Following this, this same violin will travel around the world, and we follow its journey.
This is the proof that music, which has a universal quality, can travel through time and space and knows no bounds. To crown it all off, this film received the Oscar for the best musical score!
Through this selection of films centred around the violin, we begin to see that this incredible instrument, beyond being beautiful, can be a universal force, bringing to the human culture something more sensitive, harmonious, and unifying, of which we are all in need!