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Foreign Film - Mexico - The Violin


El Violin - The Violin
Don Angel Tavira, Gerardo Tacarena, Dagoberto Gama
Directed by Francisco Vargas
Mexico 2005
Superb Black and White
Spanish - English subtitles
Film Movement 2008
98 minutes

El Violin - The Violin is Mexico ‘s most prized movie. It is great, original, fascinating, and achingly beautiful at times. Fair warning : do not let The Violin DVD menu run on as the picture in picture reveals the entire story of this superb Mexican film in less than 2 minutes. This is an unusually gauche move from Film Movement.

Part of the originality of this Mexican drama is how little violence there is in the story about an Indian guerilla movement against the Mexican government forces. Aside from the opening minutes that feature a beating and a rape, the entire war is off screen but still present.

This allows director Francisco Vargas to concentrate on Plutarco Hidalgo, an old violin player, his son, and his grandson, and the story of the Indian people of Mexico

Plutarco, his son, and his grandson Lucio try to earn a few pesos by playing music in town. They come home one day and find the women of their village fleeing. The Mexican army is occupying the village looking for rebels and weapons. Missing from the fleeing villagers are the son's wife and young daughter. The villagers set up camp in the woods.

The son is involved in the guerilla and needs to get the weapons cached in the village. Don Plutarco goes to the village, establishes a relationship of sorts with the detachment commander through music, and slowly gets what he wants.

Director Francisco Vargas is a master at getting points across such as the parallel between the government and rebel forces. He also includes a few very comical scenes such as when the detachment commander practices violin.

The movie also features some of the most beautiful shots I have ever seen in a movie. Many of them would win a war photography Pulitzer.

The Violin is a superb movie where every scene works.

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