Gatlif's Les Princes was an impressive addition to that small but fascinating genre, the gypsy film; since he was Romany himself, authenticity came easily. This film, whose title means 'safe journey', is another invaluable contribution, an impassioned, semi-allegorical odyssey traced, using one group of Roms after another, from India - by way of Egypt, Istanbul, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and the annual pilgrimage to Saintes Maries de la Mer in the Camargue - to Spain. A document of customs, craftsmanship, costumes, faces and, most especially, song and dance, it's a musical celebration of the gypsies' sense of community and ability to survive in the face of upheaval, prejudice and persecution. Technically, the film, shot in numerous locations in 'Scope and stereo, is a triumph, transcending the staged nature of many sequences by means of colour and movement. Crucial to the film's success, however, is the music, not only as an expression of the gypsies' feelings about distance, love, exile, history and hope, but glorious in its own right. Only the cavalier way with bird song on the soundtrack and the sentimental use of a non-Romany mother and child in the Hungarian episode ring false. Otherwise, it's a joy.
You may also like