Posts Tagged ‘Rom Gypsies’

This 1993 documentary film takes viewers on a vibrant musical odyssey following the Rom gypsies of India, Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, France, and Spain. Viewers become visually captivated by the sensual passionate world of dance and music. Through the whimsical and emotionally expressive variations of song each Rom community weaves a story of struggle, persecution, poverty, and resilience.

Beautiful mesmerizing landscapes of desolate deserts, austere snow filled fields, and lush green pastures serve as “homes” for these wandering people. Intimately captured, the importance of family and community are poignantly revealed throughout the film. After seeing this film several times I seem to always recall and think about three powerful scenes from the film.

The first vignette portrays an older woman sitting in a snow covered field singing about her and her people’s horrific experiences while imprisoned at Auschwitz. The camera closely reveals the expressions of pain and sorrow in the woman’s tired face. As the camera intimately pans down to the woman’s hands and arms viewers get a glimpse of the demeaning permanent tattoo markings that were given by the Nazi guards.

The second vignette captures French gypsy musicians on their short journey to a small chapel. An overflowing of candles encircles this cramped sanctuary that houses a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One by one the musicians kiss the cheek of Mary and quietly pray to her. They then begin to “serenade” to her with their rich organic music.

The third vignette shows a group of Spanish gypsies singing and dancing outside the abandoned ramshackle buildings that they have been squatting in. As Spanish police officers and brick masons assemble to brick up their homes, the Rom people are left to wander again. Standing on top of a hill looking down on the city, a Spanish gypsy woman powerfully and passionately sings of the endless persecution that they face as a people.

Today the Rom people are still facing persecution. Just last year Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s conservative president, expelled thousands of the Roma people living in France. They were forced to emigrate from France to Romania and Bulgaria. I find this very troubling and sad that these people still face discrimination and harassment.

Tony Gatlif, who is of Rom descent, filmed this powerful evocative film. He has made several other wonderful films that have centered on the lives of the Roma people. Some of these include: Mondo, The Crazy Stranger, and Transylvania.

If you don’t happen to see Latcho Drom try checking out the soundtrack. It is amazing!

Here is a clip from the film:

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