To play someone like a violin

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by Marieve333, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. Marieve333 Senior Member

    French, Canada
    Can anyone explain to me what does this expression mean, and what would be the french equivalent ?

    Here's the context : someone is talking about the movies that were made in the 30s and the censorship that was applied to those movies. They say that the director of a movie "played the censors like a violin to the point where they didn't even understand how they were allowing him to make the film even more subversive."

    I'm guessing it means that he was manipulating them ? But I don't know of a good french expression that sounds similar.

    Thank you :)
  2. Jabote Senior Member

    Mirabel, Quebec, Canada
    French from France
    Yes you're right, it does mean that he manipulated them. As to translating this to French, that's another story... I don't think you can keep the musical context. You could maybe say something like manipuler comme des pantins, but other than that, I can't think of anything. Wait for more brilliant ideas.
  3. Helene1321 Senior Member

    Maybe you can use the expression "tirer les ficelles"...
  4. toban

    toban Senior Member

    English - Canada
    This expression made me think of a similar one: to pull the wool over someone's eyes. In that thread, one of the French equivalents suggested is "rouler dans la farine". It's not an expression I've heard before, but would that work in this context?
  5. Sbonke Senior Member

    France, French
    Suggestion : Mener quelqu'un à la baguette
  6. judith.l Member

    Mener quelqu'un a la baguette is more like to be strict and authoritarian... kind of pushy I guess in english.

    To play s.o like a violin is more "rouler dans la farine" or "se jouer de quelqu'un", even though both are a bit old. In french, you should probably say that in a passive mode... To be played like a violin by s.o. is "se faire avoir comme un collegien", "se faire avoir comme un bleu" ...

    I cannot find something closer but I'm sure it exists. Wait for someone else... sorry!
  7. Marieve333 Senior Member

    French, Canada
    I like "se jouer de quelqu'un". It is similar to the English expression and I think it conveys the same meaning.

    Thank you very much everyone for your suggestions :)
  8. I know this post is old but I think my suggestion can help!
    "mener à la baguette" also conveys for me the musical idea, as a director leads the orchestra with a "baguette" too!
  9. Souxie

    Souxie Senior Member

    South of France
    French - France
    Je pense que mener par le bout du nez convient mieux, bien qu'elle n'ait rien de musical (à priori), elle inclut les notions d'influence et de manipulation. Mener à la baguette ne convient pas, cela veut vraiment dire faire obéir, il n'y a aucune notion de duplicité comme le suggère la phrase en anglais.

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