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#85 - Top 100 Canadian Films

In the lead up to the 7th Canadian Film Festival in Australia (August 2012), join us as we countdown the Top 100 Canadian Films of the past 30 years. We'll be posting one film a day leading up to Canada Day on July 1st 2012. Do you agree with our staff favourites? Let us know your thoughts!

#85 - The Red Violin


Historic eras and various cultures are inadvertently intertwined and linked together by one endurable instrument that plays a significant role in a number of lives that include the original Italian creator in the late 1600s; a child musical prodigy in 1700s Vienna; an arrogant English lothario in the 1800s; a family in Shanghai in the 1960s; and finally, a tireless historian and violin expert from Montreal in 1997. 

The foremost strength of The Red Violin is its ability to simultaneously maintain multiple storylines told from an even greater amount of perspectives and still develop a cohesive tale that is easy to follow while keeping the ultimate fate of the violin in question. The plot begins with the violin’s creation by Nicolo Bussoti in 17th century Italy. Bussoti’s pregnant wife, Anna, seeks the advice and fortune telling of their servant, who reveals Anna’s future in a series of tarot cards that also equate to the violin’s purpose in each stage of its placement. These stages are also linked to the present day at an auction, where individuals with some relation to the past bid on the coveted violin. 

With so many characters and plot lines it would be easy for this film to be convoluted and a  headache to keep up with, but that is not the case; in fact, it’s the exact opposite. As the auction proceeds in the present day you anxiously anticipate the revelation of who the last owner of the instrument is, and how it pertains to Anna’s tarot card reading in the past. 

One of my favorite aspects of the film is how culturally rich and historically detailed it is. The superb set design and costume design make it seem as if you are being physically transported to each period in the Italian countryside, Vienna, Britain, and Shanghai. It’s an extremely imaginative, magical idea that you want to be a reality. 

It’s an ambitious, fascinating, multi-layered film that will keep you guessing about the transformative power of this one object and why it is truly called the red violin.

-Pamela Galbraith

"'The Red Violin' follows not a person or a coat, but an idea: the idea that humans in all times and places are powerfully moved, or threatened, by the possibility that with our hands and minds we can create something that is perfect." (Roger Ebert, The Chicago-Sun Times)

To see the other films in the countdown so far, click here.

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