Review by Vinoo
Language : Spanish
Director : Francisco Vargas
‘El Violin’ is the story of the confrontation between the soldiers and the peasants in 1970s Mexico. Don Plutarco Hidalgo, his son and grandson are the main protagonists. Plutarco’s son is a revolutionary and is part of the peasant movement for their rights. Every evening Don Plutarco’s Violin offers solace to the weary peasants. In one of the raids on their village, in search of rebels, the soldiers take over and drive out the entire population. Some of the men are taken hostage and their women are raped right in front of them. Stuck in the village is ammunition the rebel peasants have shored up. The only way their revolt can offer any sort of resistance whatsoever is if they can recover the ammunition. Don Plutarco goes back to the village, on a mule he bartered for his entire harvest (such stories seem universal and not just part of films like ‘Mother India’), on the pretext of checking his harvest. The local military commander takes a liking to Don Plutarco’s Violin and seizes it in the hope of learning it himself. Plutarco has no choice but to go everyday to give the commander Violin lessons. And, on the pretext of checking his harvest, he gradually smuggles out ammunition, buried in his farm, in his Violin case. The commander misleads Plutarco, by seemingly hinting at when and where the peasants would be attacked. Plutarco tips off the peasants, not knowing he has been played by the Commander, and thereby inadvertently leads his own people into an ambush. Plutarco knows he has been cheated when he finds the Violin that he had buried in the secret hideout, to smuggle out ammunition in its place, is no longer there. The commander offers him his Violin and asks him to play while the rebel peasant leaders, including Plutarco’s son, are captured and brought back and presumably executed. Plutarco puts the Violin back in the case and says ‘The music is over’. The film ends with Plutarco’s grandson making a living playing the Guitar. A revolution never ends, does it? Shot in amazing black and white the film has some scenes of extreme brutality by the soldiers. The film has amazing performances by all, especially Angel Tavira, as Don Plutarco, with that brilliant face of his that says a thousand words. Brilliantly directed by Francisco Vargas and amazing casting. Watched this at IFFK a couple of years back and revisited it recently.
You can download the movie poster here
Also watched ‘The White Ribbon’. Brilliant, but need another viewing to review it J. Just back from ‘Udaan’. Fantastic. Simple. Superb. Best film of the year. Well shot, well edited, amazing sound. I normally don’t say that about sound but you should see it to get what I mean. Watched trailers of Priyadarshan’s ‘Khatta Meetha’. I wonder what makes Director’s self-destruct. Anyone who has watched ‘Vellanakalude Naadu’, the original, will agree with me this one is made for the ‘No entry’, ‘Welcome’ audience. ‘Rajneeti’ is apparently the top grosser this year. It just says how pathetic the state of affairs in Bollywood is. Like a friend mentioned Prakash Jha who made films like ‘Hip hip Hurrah‘ and ‘Damul’ might just succumb to the fact that a top-grosser must mean he has made a fab film and end up making more such films. Sigh! Hollywood isn’t too far. ‘Knight and Day’ was disaster with Tom Cruise trying to look super cool and Cameron Diaz just not clicking. ‘Inception’ by Christopher Nolan is sure worth a watch among the movies doing the rounds.
Also watched Christopher Nolan’s first? film a 3 minuter, ‘Doodle Bug’. Interesting.
Here it is.
And, sorry for the break. Got too caught up in our FD documentary. Coming soon! Maybe you can review it for me then J.
Useless trivia : Angel Tavira plays Don Plutarco Hidalgo brilliantly, and is a Violinist in real life and has scored some of the numbers in the film. His style of music is called Calentano, in reference to the Tierra Caliente region of Mexico.
Francisco Vargas has also directed a movie on Angel Tavera before directing ‘El Violin’.