July 23, 2005 at 02:58 AM · Just out of curiosity, what's the best and worst faking you've ever seen in movies or on TV? Does it bother anyone else when people do this? :)

Best: Evan Rachel Wood ~ "Little Secrets" (good violin movie)

Worst: Michael Landon ~ "Little House on the Prairie"

Replies (27)

July 23, 2005 at 03:13 AM · I also thought Evan Rachel Wood did a nice job of pretending to play, though at times it didn't look like her hand was doing a vibrato, when there was one.

Another good one was Titanic, but that's probably because the string players there weren't faking...;)

I haven't seen any bad faking yet, probably because I haven't seen that many movies with people faking.

July 23, 2005 at 03:17 AM · well, with real musicians, not faking, I like "Music of the Heart" and my teacher liked "And they shall have music". The worst faking I've seen? There's this TV show with a cellist and that was pretty bad...

July 23, 2005 at 03:35 AM · I thought Mr. Holland's Opus had some pretty bad faking. Also, me and my friends watched this Hilary Duff movie called Raise Your Voice as a joke, and it had the worst faking I've ever seen. Fine entertainment!

July 23, 2005 at 03:53 AM · The worst is when the person faking isn't a star and they could have just as easily hired someone who can play to do the faking so it would look right. They don't have any idea how comical it looks.

July 23, 2005 at 05:45 AM · Best: The Chinese movie "Together", a story about love between a father and his virtuoso son. Oh it's so good; the ending made me cry. The faking is awesome: chromatic scales, off the string bowing, everything! It's a really good movie, too. Haha there was this one "poor" student, and they even had a layer of rosin on the fingerboard!

July 23, 2005 at 05:42 AM · Hands down worst was from an Indian movie named Muhabetein(Spelling is way off). The actor moved the bow across the strings as if he as trying to play Paganini's first caprice, except the piece that was being played was nothing like it.

July 23, 2005 at 06:54 AM · I can't recall any specifics, but nearly everyone in Chinese soap opera I watch in TV is terrible at faking an instrument. Just the day before yesterday I was watching this girl playing a flute, both palms facing backwards! And a lot of people acting as conductors are pretty bad too...

July 23, 2005 at 07:39 AM · Believe it or not I think there is some contract existing between the actors union (not sure what their title is) and the TV/movie studios that prevents them from hiring actual musicians. I think it has to do with keeping the "acting" jobs for actors so they don't loose work. Otherwise it would be so much easier to just hire a real quartet for background in movies...but it is this stipulation in their contract that is the source of so much visual discomfort for real musicians watching TV. :)

July 23, 2005 at 07:39 AM · One of my favorite biopics of all time is "Chaplin", starring Robert Downey Jr. And Downey plays Chaplin phenomenally well - right down to the pervasive Victorian melancholia that seems to pervade Chaplin's own autobiography. The only problem: in one scene, Charlie is supposed to be playing the violin to take his mind off his plot problems and he just happens to be standing with his back to the camera (evidently so that we can't see that Downey's hands don't match the playing?). However, we do see quite clearly that Downey has the fiddle in his RIGHT hand, and the bow in his left. Which, oddly enough, is how EVERYONE who's not a musician and isn't in the habit of hearing/seeing violinists play mimes the playing of the violin. Any guesses as to why? (not facetious, genuinely curious). Surely it's just as easy - or difficult - to crook one's right arm and bow an invisible bow across the air violin with one's left hand as it would be do it the right way round...

July 23, 2005 at 10:21 AM · I can't really comment on this as I haven't seen it, but apparently in Master and Commander, Russell Crowe (yes, of the phone throwing fame) apparently learnt the violin from Richard Tognetti, Musical Director of the ACO.

I haven't seen the movie, but if anyone has, how did he do?

July 23, 2005 at 10:38 AM · Hey Christopher, just came across "Together" on TV the other night. It was realy good, and the boy could obviously play. When my little sister was two, my Mum videotaped her jiggling a bow over a 16th size violin while I played the Monti Czardas offscreen. Brilliant, if unconscious, faking. The only problem was that she thought she was really doing it and wanted to show everyone her newfound skills.

July 23, 2005 at 11:06 AM · Ben, I saw that and I think he did alright. I think I was debating at the time as to if he was really playing or if he somehow managed to make it look really distracted me from watching the movie. :)

July 23, 2005 at 12:33 PM · Do cartoons count? lol. King of the Hill, when the girl was playing Mozart no.4

July 23, 2005 at 02:48 PM · Haha Jerry... you're right- the faking in Mohabatein was pretty bad!

July 23, 2005 at 08:02 PM · I once saw a picture of a model "playing" a violin in a catalog. She was holding her left hand so that her thumb was on the opposite side of the neck, and she was holding the bow upside-down. That was the worst I have ever seen!

I also saw some bad faking on the Cosby Show when Grandpa Huxtable was playing trombone in a jazz concert. He wasn't even moving the slide!

July 23, 2005 at 08:34 PM · Lol cartoons are probably the worst. Their bows are all the way on the fingerboard and their violins are slumped down to their chests.

July 24, 2005 at 03:16 AM · I have to give full props to Russell Crowe. I saw an interview with him for "Master and Commander" where they asked him about the music scenes, and he said that of all his roles, learning the violin was the most demanding thing he'd ever had to do. It's nice to hear someone acknowledge all the work and stress and pain we go through...

It's not quite faking, but in "The Witches of Eastwick", I can never watch the scene when Susan Sarandon is seduced by Jack Nicholson without laughing out loud. It's supposed to highly dramatic, and she's sitting there crying out in anguish: "Oh, it's those sixteenth notes in the final run! I can never seem to get them clear!"

Her cello faking is also pretty laughable, although Jack does a fairly decent job with Paganini 16.

On a related topic, what about when characters are talking about music in a movie, and what they're saying is totally and completely wrong?

July 24, 2005 at 03:29 AM · Michael, you hit it on the head! Why is it that when Hollywood screenwriters say ANYTHING about classical music, they invariably sound lobotomized?? For instance, in that scene with Sarandon and Nicholson, it is SUCH the Hollywood perception of music (or how about her getting her foul school band to suddenly play a worthy "Eine Kleine" because, you see, these are "little human outcries!"). And what Nicholson offers her as his diabolical critique of her playing struck me as the result of a screenwriter opening up a musical dictionary at random and selecting four terms, equally at random, to put into Van Horne's mouth.

July 24, 2005 at 03:56 AM · I kinda thought the playing in Master and Commander looked cheesy. But yes, credit goes to Mr. Crowe for what he said! :)

July 24, 2005 at 03:59 AM · the worst was in mr. deeds

July 24, 2005 at 04:00 AM · There was a violinist in Mr. Deeds? I probably wasn't paying attention...

July 24, 2005 at 04:15 AM · i'm thinking it's that new chemical brothers song. since well, it's synth, not even violin;)

July 24, 2005 at 04:13 AM · there was a Fench movie about Lois the somethingth (xivth?)The Sun King. He was a patron of music, including Jean Baptiste Lully.

In the movie, The guy playing Lully is seen playing the violin with a very odd shoulder arm movement, both rising and falling in tempo to an alarming degree. Kind of like conducting.

Once would have been forgivable, but repeatedly became annoying.

Can't the director or someone just get the actor ot look at someone who can play and mimic.


July 25, 2005 at 04:05 AM · Bad faking that I've seen is in Starship Troopers with Jake Busey on the florescent fiddle, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie) with Rutger Hauer playing with gloves on and there were some inconsistencies between Joshua Bell and the actors in The Red Violin.

July 25, 2005 at 06:33 AM · The chinese rebel lady in Red Violin was pretty horrible. Ugh.

July 25, 2005 at 06:52 AM · just saw Billy Bob Thornton in The Alamo.... uhhh... yea..

July 25, 2005 at 07:22 AM · One ought to give Mr. Nai-Yuan Hu props for his fine work in "Kate and Leopold."

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