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Speaking in Strings

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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(Jun 26, 2001)
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Editorial Reviews

Described as "possessed, "frightening," and "brilliant," Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg has either enraged or enraptured critics while earning herself the nickname "the bad girl of the violin." Academy Award® nominee Speaking In Strings explores the controversial and fascinating life of this funny, fearless, irreverent, and world-renowned musician. A deeply private look at the woman behind all the accolades and controversy.

DVD Features: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg Biography; Docurama Previews; Interactive Menu; Scene Selection


Special Features

  • Biography of Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
  • Docurama Previews

Product Details

  • Actors: Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg
  • Directors: Paola di Florio
  • Producers: Paola di Florio, Cindy Rosenberg, Elizabeth Rodgers, Julie Du Brow, Lilibet Foster
  • Format: Color, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: New Video Group
  • DVD Release Date: June 26, 2001
  • Run Time: 73 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005J75T
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #145,028 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Speaking in Strings" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 3, 2001
Format: DVD
This film, while giving the impression of exploring NSS's turbulent life and her continuous metamorphosis to a better version of herself, actually emphasizes her enigma. And what's more interesting, you do not realize this until you watch the movie again. P>Okay, maybe it's just me. But NSS's "existential crisis" was triggered by a love gone wrong, and you have to take her word for it, but you don't know much more about it. What kind of love could bring this brilliant person (or anyone else, for that matter) so much pain and desperation? That part seems to be held back on purpose, and its absence was very obvious. And then, also, maybe it's justme, but you just want to reach out and give the big kid inside this prodigy a big hug...
The editing was brilliant - you have to watch the movie more than once to get the chronology in order (if you want to read into it more than necessary, as I do) and to understand NSS' evolutions. At the very least, the movie makes you appreciate classical music as a visual performance (rather than merely audio). Although when NSS plays that violin, you can just close your eyes and listen to her music - it's magical.
In the end, you feel you know NSS a little bit more, and you almost feel guilty for watching this very personal movie and intruding into her private life. NSS - despite the obvious blank spaces in the movie - is as transparent as a person could be. She fills in the spaces for you. And you cannot help but cheer her on whenever she takes that bow.
I am ready for the SEQUEL!
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This documentary provides us with a glimpse into the life of a most unusual violinist. Certainly Ms Salerno-Sonnenberg has rightful status as a proficient performer, but beyond that she is well known for her unusual stage presence. She almost literally throws herself into her performance providing the audience with a physical rendition of the music in addition to playing her instrument.

I said above that we get a glimpse of her life, and that is all one can hope for in a 75 minute movie. What we learn here once again is that we can't idealize the lives of talented performers. Nadja's life is a hectic one consisting of up to 200 performances a year. The stress of this routine is manifested in bouts of depression which on one occasion becomes suicidal.

While watching the movie I couldn't help thinking of Jaqueline du Pre, the demonstrative cellist who led a tragic life. Ms Salerno-Sonnenberg tells us that she really feels free only when she is actually performing.

Now to the disappointment. Listening to her recorded performances is very rewarding, but it can be like listening to a Shakespeare play on the radio. The visual part of her playing is an important part of the listening experience. Many of us may never be able to watch her play so I had hoped that the documentary would give us a good sampling of her on stage efforts, but unfortunately the clips of her playing the violin are few, and never more than 60 seconds in length. I wish they had extended the movie another 15 minutes and treated us to the performance of at least one composition. It is for the reason that I gave a rating of four stars instead of five.
3 Comments 9 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: DVD
I watched this movie with a sense of awe I have not felt for any other musician. Not only does Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg have a great sense of humor, she if overflowing with creativity and pure sassiness. Beneath her animated surface there also seems to be a hurricane of emotions which finds its release in her dynamic musical career.

It is as if Nadja becomes the music she is playing or is it just that the music possesses her? She is intense in her original interpretation and hauntingly expressive style. The music does not seem to be coming from the violin, but from deep within Nadja.

You have to ask yourself why anyone so talented and filled with sensitivity would consider ending their life. Especially when you are one of the world's preeminent violinists.

I believe personally that very creative people can also be struggling from a deep depression or unfulfilled longing of the soul. While Nadja sought obvious release through her playing, I think writers find the same expression through words. Both can alternate between utter hopelessness and extreme creativity. At times writing and music almost seem to be "born of pain."

What is so powerful about her story is how her mother tells her it takes courage to be happy. How true! It is far easier to give up in light of your circumstances. It takes a deep inner strength and sense of hope to continue in life when you would rather give up. Yet what a talent she has. While her talents were unquestionable at the time, her talent for living still needed to be developed. She had a passion for music, but no passion for life.

Not only do we learn how Nadja's father abandoned her family when she was a very young child, we also learn about her regret of never meeting her father.
Read more ›
Comment 27 of 33 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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By A Customer on August 5, 2001
Format: DVD
You have to watch this movie more than once to hear the words spoken in strings. If you are a classical music critic, this movie is probably not for you, because it tells a story of a genius possessed, damned, and redeemed. It gives you an insight into Nadja's continuous metamorphosis into what she is now. Her honesty almost makes you feel guilty for having invaded her privacy by watching the film.
But you watch it after the first time and you see beyond the tough girl, world-famous musician that we think she is. The film, despite its marvelous editing, leaves one thing out - The Heart - the forces that propel NSS to the heavens and throw her back to earth. And then the absence of this huge thing - loves lost and loves gained - becomes so obvious. Fortunately, the answers lie not in the pictures or words, but the nuances. As I said, the editing is very CRAFTY. You have to read between the lines and hope that there is s SEQUEL somewhere.
At the end of the film, you just want to reach out and give this big kid a big hug, because despite the accolades, you know that she yearns for the same things you and I do.
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