Highly Strung

Watch Highly Strung

  • 2015
  • 1 hr 19 min
  • 7.2  (64)

Highly Strung is a compelling and intriguing documentary film that captures the essence of the creative process that goes into making classical music. The film, directed by Scott Hicks, explores the lives of world-class violinists and the makers of their exquisite instruments, and how they overcome personal and artistic obstacles in their pursuit of perfection.

The film takes place primarily in Australia, but it also delves into the history of the violin and follows its remarkable journey from its origins in 16th century Italy to modern times. Through interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and concert performances, Hicks seamlessly weaves together the individual stories of several exceptional musicians and luthiers into a cohesive narrative.

The audience meets charismatic young violinist, Richard Tognetti, who is the leader of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and whose tireless dedication to his craft has made him one of the most respected musicians in the world. Tognetti delivers an inspiring message to young musicians that hard work and determination are paramount to success in the competitive world of classical music.

The film also introduces the master luthier, Steve Smith, who handcrafts the instruments for Tognetti and other world-renowned musicians. Smith is passionate about his work and considers each instrument his masterpiece. He takes viewers through the painstaking process of creating a violin, from selecting the wood to molding it into shape and applying the finishing touches. Even though his clients are demanding, Smith assures the audience that it's worth it when he hears one of his instruments played to perfection.

Other violinists featured in the film include Australian-born soloist, Ray Chen, and the stunningly talented Chinese cellist, Li-Wei Qin. Hicks captures the artists as they interpret Mozart and Beethoven in breathtaking performances on some of the world's most prestigious concert stages.

Throughout the film, Hicks highlights the unique relationship between the musician and their instrument, and how that relationship evolves over time. For some, the bond borders on romantic, as the artists describe how they can feel the emotions of the instrument in their own playing. The filmmakers also emphasize the importance of the craftsman, with interviews featuring some of the world's finest makers of instruments and bows.

Apart from the captivating program of the film, Highly Strung offers a window into the class-based social system of classical music, one that is becoming increasingly fragile in light of funding cuts and technological innovation. The film also provides commentary of soloists competing with one another, the extreme conductors and dishonest music agents.

Highly Strung is both an engaging piece of storytelling and a visually stunning work of art. Hicks tells a tale that spans continents and centuries, one that celebrates the creative process and the human spirit. The classical music lover will be entranced by the film, however, anyone who appreciates stunning cinematography and compelling human interest stories will find the film captivating.

Overall, Highly Strung is a must-watch for anyone who has ever been moved by classical music or has a soft spot for beautifully crafted instruments. The film proves to be an education in all things swirling around the fascinating world of orchestral music, from building violins to the life-changing experience of performing with them. Highly Strung truly is a masterpiece of documentary film.

Highly Strung is a 2015 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 19 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.2.

Where to Watch Highly Strung
Highly Strung is available to watch, stream, download and buy on demand at Apple TV and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Highly Strung for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • Runtime
    1 hr 19 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (64)