It had been almost ten years since I watched The Red Violin, a touching and engaging drama where the main character is… a violin. No, it’s not just any violin, but an extremely rare violin fashioned to perfection, painted red and a survivor of several centuries worth of owners.
The movie, directed and co-written by FranÃ§ois Girard, is a sweeping, movie drama that spans the violin’s creation centuries ago to a modern day auction where the violin is expected to fetch millions of dollars. The violin survives burials, gunshots, affairs, gypsies, communist China and more and tells the stories of its various owners, from the woman who finds that her husband is more fascinated by the unique properties of the violin than by her to the blind nationalism in China that distrusts the West, including Western music.
Having watched the film for a second time – and having built the movie up in my head for nearly ten years – The Red Violin isn’t quite as captivating as I remember it, but it’s still a very good drama with an incredible score and great acting, highlighted by Samuel L. Jackson.
Lionsgate is re-releasing the film on DVD, this time as the first entry in The Meridian Collection. Along with another film, Diva, The Meridian Collection is set to showcase Lionsgate’s top films in their library. As one might expect, The Meridian Collection is just an excuse to resell DVDs with minimal effort – and to make money, nothing more.
The Red Violin DVD comes equipped with a couple of special features, including:
- An audio commentary with Girard and co-writer Don McKellar
- “The Oscar-Winning Chaconne” – This is an examination of how composer John Corigiliano went about scoring the film. Unlike most films, where the score is added at the end, the score had to built into the screenplay from the beginning as the film often shows complicated finger movements on screen. This is a pretty interesting feature.
- “The Auction Block,” which explains the fascination with Stradivarius violins and includes interviews with the woman who currently owns and plays the violin that the film is based upon.
And that’s it. The Meridian Collection doesn’t offer a lot of new bonus features – all it does is get a Lionsgate product back in front of audience’s eyes. Of course, when the film is something like The Red Violin, a quality picture that few people have seen, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.