The Red Violin (French: Le Violon rouge, German: Die Rote Violine, Italian: Il Violino Rosso, traditional Chinese: 红提琴) is a 1998 Canadian film. It spans across three centuries and five countries as it tells the story of a violin and its many owners. The film was an international co-production between companies in Canada, Italy and the UK.
The film tells the story of a perfect violin known as 'The Red Violin' for its rich red color. At the beginning of the film, the violin is being auctioned in Canada. As the bidding starts, the violin's history is revealed, showing that the violin has been in existence for over 300 years, having been made in 1681. Its history is told in five locations around the world: Cremona in Italy, Vienna, Oxford, Shanghai and Montreal. To its owner, the violin has caused anger, betrayal, love and sacrifice. In each setting the dialogue is spoken in the appropriate language.
The film is believed to be inspired by one of the Stradivarius's violins, the Red Mendelssohn (1720) which is currently played by Elizabeth Pitcairn, whose grandfather purchased it for her 16th birthday for $1.6 million in an auction at London's Christie. Appropriately, she is one of the few soloists who performs the Red Violin Chaconne composed for the film by John Corigliano.
The film received an Academy Award for the Best Original Score (John Corigliano), 8 Genie Awards, 9 Jutra Awards, a Golden Reel Award (for sound editing) and the Best Artistic Contribution Award from the Tokyo International Film Festival.