3rd October 2011…
Yuppy-town was invaded by gypsies last night, as Comrade Richards showed Gadjo Dilo, meaning ‘crazy gadjo (non-gypsy)’. The film follows Stéphane, a young Frenchman who has travelled to Romania in search of a Roma singer called Nora Luca, who his father had recorded many years previously on a journey to Romania. He is taken under the wing of local musician Izidor, in spite of neither of them having any idea what the other is talking about. In spite of initial hostility and mistrust directed towards him, Stéphane stays with the Roma for several months recording gypsy musicians, and falling under the spell of the beautiful and wild Sabina.
The film was directed by Tony Gatlif, a French director of Gypsy and Algerian descent, who has directed several films that focus on Romani culture and music. Gadgo Dilo is the third of a trilogy which started with Les Princes and the documentary Latcho Drom. Romain Duris and Rona Hartner, who play Stéphane and Sabina, were reunited in another film directed by Gatlif Je suis né d’une cigogne,but it was not as critically well-received.
Although it wasn’t the rom com I personally was hoping for, the film had plenty of slapstick moments and comic takes on cultural misunderstanding, such as Stéphane trying to show his gratitude to Izidor by cleaning his house and being laughed at by the women for doing women’s work. Slightly shocking, but also pretty funny, were the filthy curses that some of the very small children were bandying about. “Eat my cock with polenta” was a particular favourite!
The film had an almost documentary style in parts, due in part to the use of non-professional actors, and rough editing. Geeks among us will have recognised hints of neo-realism in this style of direction, and will no doubt have been drawing parallels between this film and The Bicycle Thieves. Unusually for a feature film, the film was shot in chronological order to show Stéphane’s integration into the gypsy community as realistically as possible (and probably to show the changing of the seasons accurately!).
The film raised interesting questions of exclusion and integration of different cultural groups, forcing us to question our attitudes to cultures that are ‘other’ and fairly impenetrable. One of Helen’s reasons for showing the film was that she had been drawn in by the music, and most of us would agree that the music is one element of gyspy culture that we would be interested in exploring. However, the film leads us to question our attitude and to wonder whether we are any better than the people in the film who hire the Roma to play and dance at weddings and special occasions, but are unwilling to attempt any sort of integration with them and ultimately turn on them. You can find some interesting thoughts on this here.
For those of us who want to hear more of the music featured in the film, Helen R has the soundtrack and is happy to share it. Here is a little taster, performed by ‘l’enfant prodige’.
Until next time,
THIS IS NOT A DEMOCRACY