True Films

Latcho Drom


This one is very hard to explain. It’s hypnotic. There is not a spoken word in it. The film is a feature-length ethnic MTV video. A continuous 103 minute song. Sung in the language of gypsies. Starts out in India, where nomads sing and dance in the magnificent Rajasthan desert, and then pass their music — without losing a beat — onto their roaming singing cousins in the mid-east and Egypt, and then onto their Roma relatives in Turkey and eventually into the heart of old Europe as gypsies. They sing about their predicament, their hopes and sorrows, and about the joy of life and freedom (all lyrics subtitled). They tell their history entirely in music. The most marvellous thing about this unusual film is the authenticity of the local singers, their incredible musical gifts, and their stunning locations and landscapes. Even though the superb audio and lighting required more than the usual documentary opportunistic make-do, you can’t tell how staged the performances are, or if they are. One feels like a gypsy on foot who just happens to meet some cousins as they sing their hearts out. It works as ambient music video — stunning, mesmerizing scenes from some archetypical past. Except for the film Baraka, which this resembles because of its eerie lack of dialog, I can’t think of anything like this operatic trance.

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Latcho Drom
Directed by Tony Gatlif
1994, 103 min.
$16, DVD

Read more about the film at Wikipedia

Available from Amazon

Posted November 25, 2005 at 5:00 am | comments


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