Return to tiff.’s home page

Canadian Film Encyclopedia

Shopping Cart
The Red Violin

The Red Violin

Year: 1997
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 130 min
Director: François Girard
Producer: Niv Fichman
Writer: François Girard, Don McKellar
Cinematographer: Alain Dostie
Editor: Gaétan Huot
Sound: Claude Haye
Music: John Corigliano
Cast: Christoph Koncz, Irene Grazzioli, Jean-Luc Bideau, Carlo Cecci, Jason Flemyng, Sylvia Chang, Greta Scacchi, Samuel Jackson, Monique Mercure, Rémy Girard, Don McKellar, Colm Feore
Production Company: Channel Four (U.K.), Rhombus Media, New Line Cinema (U.S.), Mikado Films (Rome)

The story of the "red" violin centres around a contemporary auction in which a priceless violin with a legendary past is placed on the block. As the bidding mounts, the story flashes back to important chapters in the violin's history and the impact it had on all those who possessed it. From its creator, a 17th-century master violinmaker (Cecchi) in Cremona, Italy, the instrument passes through the ages to a child prodigy (Koncz) in Vienna who plays before royalty, an English virtuoso (Flemyng), a Chinese Communist official (Chang) and, finally, to a Montreal auction room where it is coveted by many. At the centre of the story is a dark secret that is only revealed at the film's suspenseful finale.

Filmed on an epic scale, the story takes place in five countries over three centuries and uses meticulous period recreations. However, Girard and co-scriptwriter Don McKellar focus on the intimate nature of the story and the characters and slowly reveal the richness of the atmosphere and detail.

Alain Dostie’s photography is striking and the film features an Academy Award–winning classical score. It was a box office success and is the most successful Canadian art-house feature made to date. In 1998, it won eight Genies for best picture, direction, original screenplay, cinematography, art direction, costumes, musical score and overall sound.