''The Red Violin'' is a HistoricalFiction[=/=]SpeculativeFiction film following the story of an elusive, expertly crafted red violin with a DarkSecret.

The film starts with a luthier in Italy, a fastidious master who lovingly crafts a perfect instrument for his unborn son... and then marks it indelibly with an act of mad grief. Following the pattern laid down by five Tarot cards, the violin's journey takes it through Europe, Asia, and finally the New World. For four centuries it passes from owner to owner, haunting each with beautiful music and constant misfortune, and leaves a trail of triumph, obsession, hope, and misery in its wake.

MeanwhileInTheFuture an auction house in Montreal prepares to open bidding on the violin, now recognized as a priceless treasure. Over the course of the film, we gradually come to learn the connections that lead many of the attendees to seek the violin, and how many lives the instrument has affected for good or ill.

''The Red Violin'' was produced by companies from Italy, Canada and the United Kingdom, and released by Lionsgate in 1998. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Score (composed by John Corigliano), and received/was nominated for many other awards for filmmaking and music, including a nomination for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes.
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!!This film contain examples of:
* UsefulNotes/AcademyAward: For Best Original Score.
* ArtifactOfAttraction: The Red Violin. Those who own it tend to love it passionately, and be inspired by it like nothing else. Victoria seems to think it has an evil will of its own. Granted, this becomes increasingly [[JustifiedTrope Justified]] as the years go on, and the violin becomes recognizably more and more valuable by its age. In the present day, the violin is recognized as the last creation of the Renaissance master Busotti, and as a relic of the Romantic musician Frederick Pope -- practically priceless.
* {{Auction}}: The setup for the modern-day portion of the story, held in Montreal and populated mostly by the very rich.
* TheBadGuyWins: [[spoiler: All the auction candidates who want to buy the violin for sentimental or respectful reasons are outbid, and it ends up going to the pompous Mr. Ruselsky, who only wants it to boast about. Or... does it? ]]
* BookEnds: The first music we hear in the film, "Anna's Theme," is a woman humming a lullaby, which blends into the sound of a perfectly matched violin. Listen until the end of the credits, and the violin's music fades away, to be replaced once more by Anna's sad voice.
** The film both opens and closes in Cremona, Italy, in the seventeenth century.
* TheCameo: Joshua Bell, who plays most of the music in the soundtrack, is seen amongst the Orchestra in Oxford as Frederick Pope prepares to play his music.
* TheCasanova: Fredrick Pope.
* ChekhovsGun:
** There is a reason why the display of the Red Violin was delayed by a few seconds. [[spoiler: And it isn't the real one either.]]
** [[spoiler: To verify the violin's authenticity, Mme. Leroux (in Montreal) orders a replica of the violin that was made when it came into Frederick Pope's hand (Pope being the violin's most famous owner), in order to compare them. They're almost indistinguishable. Morritz later swaps out the real violin for the replica.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: In the opening scenes, as Morritz enters the auction room, he passes by a man desperately trying to enter the auction itself. That man is Nicholas Olsberg, the representative from the Pope Foundation as revealed by the scenes in Oxford.
* ChildProdigy: Kaspar Weiss.
* CompanionCube: The violin becomes this for a number of its owners.
** Especially Kaspar Weiss, who has to sleep with it. When it is taken away, his heart acts up.
* CulturePolice: During the RedChina portion of the story, most of the main characters are these.
* DarkSecret: Xiang keeping the Red Violin safe, even as she herself is a member of the CulturePolice.
** The red violin's beautiful and distinctive varnish [[spoiler: is made with Anna's blood.]]
* DeathByChildbirth:[[spoiler: Anna Rudolfi, the wife of the violin maker, after her fortune is told.]]
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: "Pope's Concert." In case the music itself wasn't zesty enough, Pope's performance is accented by little grunts, moans, sighs... and the audience members all begin to look uncomfortable... or, in the case of one female attendee, ''pleasantly'' uncomfortable...
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:Fredrick Pope, after Victoria leaves him and shoots at his violin]].
* FailedASpotCheck: Played Straight and Averted. [[spoiler:While Morritz is swapping out the real Red Violin for the replica, he drops the auction tag and doesn't notice it. When Leroux is about to call security after noticing the tag is missing, Evan finds the dropped tag in the inventory room.]]
* {{Foreshadowing}}: In the very first scene Busotti shows that he would rather destroy a violin of his workshop than produce an instrument that's only meant to be a collector's piece, never played or loved. [[spoiler: It turns out that Morritz is of the same mind.]]
** When Ming, at the auction, first sees the red violin, he says [[spoiler: "That's not the one I remember." His wife assures him that he's mistaken.]]
* GrailInTheGarbage: Happens to the red violin quite frequently. One might consider giving a violin of such quality away to a monastery to train young monks to be "throwing it out," if not, then certainly burying it in a grave will do. Frederick Pope thought so when he found Romani on his lands playing it. The violin later gathers dust in a dinky English goods shop in Shanghai for several decades.
** TruthInTelevision for the real-life "red violin" that very loosely inspired the story -- it was stolen, and played by a busker who covered it with ''shoe polish'' to disguise the red stripe on the varnish.
* GraveRobbing: [[spoiler:[[{{Gypsy}} A band of Romani]] unearth the violin after it's buried with Kaspar and take it to England.]]
* HeartwarmingOrphan: Kaspar Weiss.
* TheHedonist: Fredrick Pope. His house is furnished with the most luxurious trappings, his musical and sexual appetites intersect in peculiar ways (to say the least), and as time goes on, he develops an addiction to opium.
* HeyWait: You forgot your coat, Mr. Morritz.
* HowWeGotHere: About four-fifths of the movie could be considered a prolonged version of this.
* HypocriticalHumor: Mr. Ruselsky, a violin expert testing out the most promising finds, plays the red violin itself, and declares that it's "nothing special." The day that the news story breaks that the violin is actually ''the'' red violin, he at once snaps that he knew it ''at once'', Morritz lied to him, and that violin should be his!
* IllGirl: Kasper Weiss, as a young boy version of this trope with a "weak heart".
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: The dark fates of the violin's owners and the obsession it creates could simply be the attributed to the costs of artistic excellence and human nature. Its owner's habits of playing a particular tune could be could be the result of trained ears being subtly guided by the resonance points the academic researcher finds. The mysterious power of the music it produces could be the result of a masterwork finding itself in the hands of gifted musicians. Nevertheless, a number of characters seem to sense something a bit... [[ArtifactOfDoom off]]... about the instrument.
* InMediasRes: The auction is shown, and then the pieces for why it is important for several participants in the room are revealed throughout the movie.
* MeaninglessVillainVictory: [[spoiler: Mr. Ruselsky ends up winning the red violin at auction -- but what he doesn't know is, that violin he won is a fake. And even if he figures it out, his pride will never let him admit he was so duped.]]
* MockGuffin: [[spoiler: The red violin that we first see in the film, the one up for auction that attracts all of the drama, is a high-quality fake. Morritz walked out with the original five minutes ago. See MeaninglessVillainVictory.]]
** Also played with: when Chou Yan is forced to destroy his violin in China, the film makes you wonder if it was the real Red Violin. [[spoiler: Turns out it wasn't, and it has yet to make an appearance in this time period.]]
* TheMuse: Victoria to Fredrick, as their passionate affair fuels his music, and it's implied Frederick also helps Victoria compose her novels.
* MuseAbuse: Frequently Played With throughout the movie, in different forms for different storylines.
** Kaspar averts the trope, a polite and willing little boy who just wants to play music. M. Poussin, his mentor and patron, is certain that Kaspar's talent is worth every ''sous'' of debt that he incurs.
** Frederick and Victoria are in a dangerously co-dependent relationship where they are each other's Muse and inspiration. This manifests in Frederick in an inability to function without Victoria, and Victoria shows extreme jealousy.
** Xiang's love for her mother's gift is so great that she puts her own life in danger to keep it.
** Morritz is not (primarily) an artist, but he starts pouring time, interest, and research into the Violin far beyond what an academic should do, risking estrangement from his family.
* NiceToTheWaiter: Morritz and Busotti... ''are not.''
* NotSoDifferent: Morritz and Busotti, although they never meet and are not antagonistic to each other, are shown as being very alike: passionate about music and violins, fastidious, [[NiceToTheWaiter prone to be jerks to the people who work for them]], and both have troubled home lives (Busotti worried about his wife having a child late in life; Morritz's work taking him far away from his family, which strains them).
* OneWomanWail: Anna's humming mixed in perfectly with the violin music.
* OnlyInItForTheMoney: Monsieur Poussin adopts Kaspar Weiss not for love or to improve his talent, but only to sell his talent to the highest bidder (as Poussin is under significant financial duress). When Weiss meets an untimely death, he has the gall to ask the monks for the Red Violin itself, hoping to sell it.
* [[PoweredByAForsakenChild Powered By A Forsaken Child... or Mother]]: The Red Violin. From when Cesca begins to read Anna's cards, the path she lays out strongly resembles the violin's life. But it's unclear whether the future she reads is for Anna or her unborn son [[spoiler:-- and then, if the violin should be seen as carrying Anna's spirit or his.]]
* PetTheDog: Frederick Pope may be an arrogant jerk to his conductor and the rest of his orchestra, but he lets the Romani camp stay on his land as long as they like, and even gives them free tickets to his performances, all in exchange for one violin of theirs.
* ThePowerOfLove[=/=]ThePowerOfHate - one mystical-variety explanation for the violin's [[BlessedWithSuck two edged properties]] is that its creator imbued it with ''both''.
* RedChina: The fourth portion of the story takes place during the UsefulNotes/CulturalRevolution, when Western instruments are outlawed.
* RomanticismVersusEnlightenment: Two characters, who never meet, embody this dichotomy perfectly, even living during the appropriate time periods:
** Monsieur Poussin in Vienna eagerly embraces the ideals of science, progress, and reason. The audition piece he sets for Kaspar is not emotional or passionate: it is one complicated chord played faster and faster, to prove the boy's technical skill. As a result, Poussin considers Kaspar's love for his violin to be a foolish superstition, and doesn't realize how much it means to the boy. Although, as his affection for Kaspar grows, he does understand, and lets the boy carry on sleeping with the violin.
** Frederick Pope of Oxford, some century and a half later, is a Byronic musical genius. His performances feature music composed on the spot in a fit of sexual inspiration, and hang the rest of the orchestra for prudes. The downside is that when his muse departs, he can barely function, let alone compose [[spoiler: and finds inspiration with a Romani girl.]]
* SmokingHotSex: Victoria indulges, after a nice "inspiration" session with Frederick.
* TarotMotifs: A tarot reading at the start of the movie foretells the rest of the plot of the movie. Accompanied, of course, by
* TarotTroubles: Anna's reading is not filled with good omens. The Moon, the Hanged Man, the Devil, and Justice all make appearances. [[spoiler: Subverted, with the last card -- Death -- which actually signifies a new beginning and change for the better.]]
* TechnicianVersusPerformer: As mentioned above, M. Poussin is a bona fide Technician, and trains Kaspar this way, saying that the metronome is the master of music, while Frederick Pope is a passionate Performer who seems immune to criticism, direction, or even schedules. Notably, Busotti, the violin's maker, falls somewhere in between: he is fastidious and precise in his craftsmanship, but his love and passion for music and his wife drives him.
* ThePowerOfBlood: of the Blood Is Symbolic variety. [[spoiler: Busotti finishes the violin after his wife's death by making a varnish of her blood and painting it on with her hair. The violin carries on Anna's spirit (or, alternately, her child's). Ever after, the violin's owners constantly play a variant on Anna's Theme.]]
* TimePassesMontage: Three of them.
** The collection of Choirboys from the orphanage in Austria who play the violin for 100 years.
** The GraveRobbing gypsies, who play it for another century before ending up in Frederick Pope's possession.
** Finally, the violin goes up on sale in a pawnshop where it is displayed for 30 years as the owner ages significantly.
* TitleDrop: All over the place, but especially in and around the auction, when the violin has achieved worldwide fame.
* ToplessnessFromTheBack: On the film poster and soundtrack cover, a curved woman's back (probably Anna) is shown with the f holes superimposed on her.
* TranslationConvention: [[AvertedTrope Averted]].
* TogetherInDeath: [[spoiler: Kaspar is buried with the red violin; this is a trope soon undone by GraveRobbing.]]
* WholeEpisodeFlashback: The story of the auction is, although shown several times from different POVs, very little of the movie compared to the long flashbacks showing HowWeGotHere. Or, for another interpretation -- because the film's first and last shots are in Cremona, Italy, it's possible that the entire film is a Whole Episode Flash-''forward.''
* WomanScorned: Victoria grabs a gun when she hears Frederick getting his ''inspiration'' from someone else.
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: Inspired by The Red Mendelssohn, a violin purchased for $1.7 million with a signature red stripe on its top side.
* ViolinScam: [[spoiler:Accomplished by Morritz at the end of the film, switching a high-quality copy of Pope's violin for the real article, so that he can keep his once-in-a-lifetime relic, and ensure it's passed to someone who will truly treasure it.]]
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