El Violin

I don’t know if it’s been distributed yet, or if it’s still making the rounds at theaters…but El Violin is the most beautifully shot black and white film I have ever seen. When I watched it at the Roxie in San Francisco a few years ago, my mouth was hanging open the entire time. I kept looking at my friend, a fellow film student, in shock. I was so mesmerized and startled by how beautiful and clear, and how wonderfully composed, all of the images were. You could literally take any frame from the movie and have it stand on its own as an amazing piece of photography.

El Violin (2005)
El Violin (2005)

El Violin was made by Mexican filmmaker named Francisco Vargas, who initially made a shorter version of the film as a student project. The story is rather grim, and to be honest, I had a hard time staying engaged with it…but the imagery is so gorgeous, anyone who loves film or photography should must go see it.

Synopsis (taken from CINEMONDO):

“Don Plutarco, his son Genaro and his grandson Lucio live a double life: on one hand they are musicians and humble farmers, on the other they support the campesina peasant guerilla movement’s armed efforts against the oppressive government. When the military seizes the village, the rebels flee to the sierra hills, forced to leave behind their stock of ammunition. While the guerillas organize a counter-attack, old Plutarco executes his own plan. He plays up his appearance as a harmless violin player, in order to get into the village and recover the ammunition hidden his corn field. His violin playing charms the army captain, who orders Plutarco to come back daily. Arms and music play a tenuous game of cat-and-mouse which ultimately results in painful betrayal.”

There is an unsubtitled version available on Youtube, but the image quality is poor and it’s broken up into 12 segments. This should be seen in a a theater, or uninterrupted on a large screen…but here is a link to watch a particularly poetic clip from the film: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F35KsDDB3vM, or the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l23wYKg7wjY


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