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Garland, Symphony showcasing 1998 film ‘The Red Violin’

September 20, 2018

This weekend, François Girard’s 1998 film “The Red Violin” will be shown at the Garland Theater, in anticipation of the upcoming Spokane appearance by the actual 1720 Red Mendelssohn Stradivarius that inspired it.

On Oct. 6 and 7, Elizabeth Pitcairn will bring her famous instrument to town for two performances with the Spokane Symphony.

In the meantime, fans can enjoy the film, which in 2000 won the Academy Award for best original score by composer John Corigliano.

Girard’s film is a fictional imagining of the storied violin’s journey during the nearly 200-year-period where its ownership is disputed due to a lack of documentation.

The multinational life of the violin begins with its eccentric and devoted creator. The story unfolds as a dubious tarot reading intended to outline the future of the violin maker’s wife and child, only to spell out the fate of the violin itself. Each card reveals a new chapter of the violin’s story according to the adventures of its owners.

The violin finds its way to a Bavarian monastery before getting picked up by a young boy with a weak heart. The prodigious child is whisked off to Vienna for further study, playing the instrument religiously until it becomes too much for him.

After its theft from the boy’s grave, the violin moves between gypsy performers for years until it’s essentially confiscated by a professional, but very unprofessional, British aristocrat violinist. Circumstances surrounding the instrument drive him mad.

From there it ends up in China before resurfacing in a British auction house.

As film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum wrote in Entertainment Weekly upon the film’s 1999 U.S. release, “Girard’s innovative translation of the musical experience through the storytelling possibilities of a visual medium (aided by a haunting score by John Corigliano) is engaging even when the individual movements droop from the weight of costume-drama finery.”

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