The Violin

| May 12, 2008

Director and Writer Francisco Vargas’ The Violin is best described as an unconventional film set to the beat of semi-conventional parameters. Set against the backdrop of injustice and revolution in the Sierra Hills, The Violin depicts the juxtaposition of brute force, family responsibility, and musical escape.
The film tracks the revolt of a 1970s Mexican village against their brutal and unjust oppressors. Don Angel Tavira plays Don Plutarco, who, for much of the film, blends superbly with the sparse and weathered layout of his surroundings. With a sullen facial expression and steadied gaze, Tavira encompasses the role of a worn musician who finds himself at an impasse–a link to past and present revolution and a bridge for the future generation to traverse.
The present generation, represented by a gruff and revolutionary Genaro and played by Gerardo Taracena, finds itself trapped between the responsibilities one holds toward family life and those centered around social uprising. Genaro is but a microcosm of the middle-aged revolutionary–one who hesitates to return to an embattled and occupied village to retrieve munitions due to the danger involved for himself and his family, but one who also also realizes that he must for the sake of his son’s future.
While the black-and-white film opens with a sudden and graphic depiction of torturous rape, much of the The Violin is centered around the mentalities behind the oppressed and the oppressor. In a finely scripted scene that involves Don Plutarco and his momentary and recurring captor, the Capitan (Dagoberto Gama), the two characters exchange verbal hints at the ideas and situations that led to their eventual positions as direct opposition. The scene acts as a precipice for the film, itself. It provides a moment in which each character teeters on the edge of their own ideology in an attempt to define their opposition as humans, and not merely as the embodiment of eternally conflicted causes.
The Violin refrains from succumbing to the stereotypical tendencies of the “revolutionary” film. Rather than focusing entirely upon violence and bloodshed, Vargas turns the lens on generational responsibilities that stem from revolution. He tackles the work from multiple generational perspectives, and does so with ease and grace. At the completion of the film, we understand the necessity behind their revolution–much to Vargas’ credit.

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