In theatres from director/writer Bernard Rose and Freestyle Releasing come the intensity of emotion with THE DEVIL’S VIOLINIST.
This film tells the story of Niccolo Paganini (David Garrett), a young man who is a violin genius in 1830 Europe. It was said that his talent had to be the devil’s work and he had a reputation of being scandalous. Sleeping and drinking his money away, a man named Urbani (Jared Harris) offered his managerial services in an attempt to expand Paganini’s audience.
Pledging his undying loyalty, Urbani’s first plan was to bring Paganini to London by invitation of John Watson (Christian McKay) and Elisabeth Wells (Veronica). Watson finds the money as a last resort to his own good name to bring the violinist. Paganini wants nothing to do with the plan but a fast thinking Urbani makes it happen.
Arriving in London, they are greeted by journalist Ethel Langham (Joely Richardson) who makes it clear that she can make or break Paganini with her articles. Urbani takes Paganini to the Watson home where daughter Charlotte (Andrea Deck) sees nothing special about the musician.
Soon Paganini and Charlotte would find each other through music, his violin and her voice that would bring London to its feet. But the forces of fate that Paganini had created on his own would come to take all he wanted away.
FINAL WORD: Garrett as Paganini is one of the most perfect choices to play this role. Garrett, German born, received his first violin at the age of four. By age ten he was on stage with the Hamburg Philharmonic followed by recordings. Julliard School in New York would be his next stop by age 18 and studied with Itzhak Perlman.
His goal has been to introduce young people to classical music and THE DEVIL’S VIOLINIST has the ability to do just that. From the moment Garrett is seen on the screen, this violinist exudes someone who not only loves music but sweats it out from his very being. Each scene Garrett plays in reinforces the story of a man driven by his music.
Harris as Urbani is amazing in this role playing the babysitter of a tantrum-ridden musical genius! However, there is something untrustworthy and totally creepy about this character that never says straight out that he could, himself, be the Devil if anybody was. So well done, well done!
Son of actor Richard Harris, Jared has put his own mark on film in SHERLOCK HOMES: A GAME OF SHADOWS and THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON. For television fans, Harris has also made his mark as Lane Price in the series Mad Men on AMC.
Richardson as Langham portrayed a woman journalist in a completely male dominated business. Finding herself after Paganini, Richardson’s character quickly becomes a woman who knows how to handle herself when scorned!
Deck as Charlotte has such an incredibly beautiful voice. Her screen debut came in the film LES MISERABLES. McKay as Watson is a twitchy man who has put everything he owns to the success of Paganini, I truly felt bad for him.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give THE DEVIL’S VIOLINIST four tubs of popcorn out of five. This story is one that shares beauty along with such films as The Red Violin and Immortal Beloved. Taking the genius of Paganini and not hiding his flaws is what draws the viewer in.
Add in the beautiful costumes of the era and stunning sets designs bring a stunning film almost full circle. What completes it all is the heart wrenching, intense and glorious music that comes out of Garrett’s violin. He gives the story of Paganini what it needed to portray the 18th century as a rock star who lives a rock star life.
Director Rose says of the star, “David Garrett is not only a virtuoso violinist and a huge star in Germany and at once I was convinced that he could do this. He could certainly play the violin like Paganini – not a small feat – and without that there could be no movie in my opinion.”
And what fascinated violinist Garrett to play Paganini? “Paganini was a brilliant violinist, but not just that. He’s a legend. A completely new era began with him in regards to how we perceive an artist. Paganini marks the beginning of references to a ‘virtuoso’ in a mystifying way. His exceptional talent was attributed to miraculous powers and to every possible supernatural ability, even to a pact with the devil. The fact that virtuosity is mainly the result of hard work and rigorous discipline is completely pushed aside. I do see certain parallels to the situation today – and also to myself.”
Garret also says of the role of music in the film, “The music is supposed to support the story and vice versa. That’s the best possible symbiosis. Paganini’s virtuosity on the violin is irresistible. You can show that wonderfully with his music and when you make a film about a musician you have to see him in action. It’s a tightrope walk, telling a story without allowing the music to dominate it”.
The film gives a continual flow of storyline and music but, that being said, watching Garrett’s performance and hearing the music can practically take the air out of the room! It is so beautiful not just in the listening but in viewing his performance playing the violin. It became so intense at times that it took me a moment to realize I was holding my breath!
The accompanying CD for the film is a must have. Garrett Vs Paganini has 14 stunning pieces played by Garrett who says, “The recording for the Paganini film was the most intense project I have ever undertaken. It has always been a special dream of mine to write and arrange music for a film”. Along with duets with Andrea Bocelli, Nicole Scherzinger and Steve Morse, this is one CD that won’t be leaving your player anytime soon.
In the end – fame is desire and love is a curse!