|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Index||11 reviews in total|
10 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Brilliantly crafted documentary celebrating Romani music & the musicians who play it, 28 January 2007
Author: (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Portland, Oregon, United States
If you like Roma music (and if you don't I hope you can be reincarnated
until you do; it'll be worth it) you'll love this brilliantly crafted
documentary film (titled "Gypsy Caravan" in the version circulating in
the U.S.). Director Jasmine Dellal and her two fine cinematographers,
Alain de Halleux and Albert Maysles, go on a U.S. tour in 2002 with
five of the very best Romani bands around. Their music is to die for.
Here's a sketch of each group:
"Fanfare Ciocarlia" is a 12 piece brass band from Zece Prajini, a NE Romanian village near the Moldavian border. Their music, sometimes referred to as "Balkan funk," blends Romanian, Roma, Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian and even klezmer influences. They were featured in the recent German-Turkish hit drama, "Head On," and one of their numbers closes the comedy, "Borat."
"Taraf de Haidouks" (it means band of brigands - or outlaws) hails from the Romanian village of Clejani, SW of Bucharest. The players are called lautari, meaning traditional (folk) musicians. They have played with Yehudi Menuhin and the Kronos Quartet. The actor Johnny Depp is a big fan, after working with them in the Sally Potter film, "The Man Who Died." He once flew them to his nightclub in LA and paid them $10K to perform (Depp talks about them in this film). Their leader for many years was Nicolai Neaucescu, a droll violin player who busked wherever he went. Ms. Dellal, who was present for this screening, tells a story about Nicolai when the tour was playing in Berkeley, and he went busking around town. One listener was so moved that he gave Nicolai his gold watch. I had the pleasure of seeing "Taraf" perform a few years ago at the Vancouver (B.C.) Folk Music Festival. Between gigs, Mr. Neaucescu circulated through the Jericho Beach park grounds playing for tips. In its 25 year history, no previous performer had ever busked at the VFMF. Festival staff couldn't for the life of them figure out if this was OK or not.
"Antonio El Pipa," a Gypsy Flamenco ensemble from Andalucia, Spain, is led by the dancer Antonio, who was born in Jerez de la Frontera. Performing with the group is his aunt, Tia Juana la del Pipa, whose raw, almost basso voice is as earthy as one can possibly imagine (think Tom Waits here).
"Maharaja" (formerly Musafir) is a song and dance troupe from Rajasthan in NW India. The group is influenced by diverse traditions, including north Indian folk music, Arabic and Sufi. Their star is Sayari Sapera, a gorgeous young man who performs as a dazzlingly costumed female Sufi-style dancer.
Esma Redepova is probably the best known Rom performer in Europe. Her career spans over 40 years and 15,000 concerts, many of them benefits for her humanitarian aid projects. One of her most famous songs is featured in the recent comedy, "Borat" (she claims this was used without her permission - another among the rumored questionable dealings of the "Borat" filmmakers). Known as "Queen of the Gypsies," she hails from Skopje, Macedonia, though for most of her career she has lived in Belgrade. She sings with the Teodosievski ensemble, named for her late husband and the band's founder, Stevo Teodosievski. The couple adopted 47 boys over the years, raising them and teaching them music in particular. Esma, as she is simply known everywhere, has been nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize for her human rights work on behalf of Roma people, and she also received an award from UNICEF for her humanitarian activities.
The music these groups create is sublimely exciting, amusing, and full of attitude. In the case of the eastern European groups, there is also more than a touch of what one might regard as a sort of blues idiom. The music is one of two wondrous elements in this film. The other is the superb way in which the film itself is built. Ms. Dellal blends concert footage with scenes of the musicians at leisure or dressing for performances. The musicians delight in getting to know each other.
Ms. Dellal also visits the villages where these people come from. There are remarkable views of the musicians' homes and families, townspeople, buildings, farm animals, a camel pulling a cart through the street, countryside, you name it, in places like Jerez, Zece Prajini, rural Rajasthan and Clejani, where the indomitable Nicolai, while showing us his house, tells us he may build a pool there "like Johnny Depp's."
The photography and editing - indeed all filmic production values - are first rate. This is quite a step up for Ms. Dellal from her 1999 film, "American Gypsy: A Stranger in Everybody's Land." That film featured some interesting characters but was not nearly as well made as "Caravan." For lovers of world music and cultural diversity, "Caravan" is a film you must not miss. (In Romani, Spanish, various North Indian dialects & English) My grades: 9/10 (A) (Seen at the NWFC's Reel Music series, 01/26/07)
3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
Don't Get Too Hung Up On "Gypsy", 10 August 2007
Author: tjlisson from St. Paul, U.S.A.
Some of the above writers are overreacting to the word "Gypsy." Sure
it's etymologically and ethnologically inaccurate, but names for ethnic
groups often are. How about "American Indian?"
Actually, when speaking English, many Roma themselves seem to have little or no problem referring to themselves as "Gypsies." Likewise, ask an American Indian what he/she would like to be called and you may be surprised to find that most of them would prefer "Indian" over "Native American," "American Aborigine," or whatever. I think some well-intended non-Indians and non-Gypsies just decided for themselves that these names are offensive, without even actually asking the effected peoples themselves.
Besides, you should know that the Romany word used for non-Roma, Gadjo, is unquestionably of a pejorative connotation (in contrast to, say, "Gentile"), reflecting the fact that in traditional Roma culture the Gadjo are considered unclean (which is exactly what the word means). Furthermore, though it may not be politically correct to say so, the fact of the matter is that in the traditional culture the Gadjo are to be strictly avoided, unless they can somehow be exploited for the benefit of the Roma. Do some serious research into Romany culture before you summarily doubt this.
So don't be so uptight. "Gypsy," when you get right down to it, is really just the English Language name for a Roma person, just as "Niemiec," meaning one who just doesn't understand or get it (and is by inference an outsider) is the word in Slavic languages for a German, and just as the word "Slav" is the source of the word for slave in most western languages. I mean, how politically incorrect is that?
4 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Romani Boogie Woogie, 5 August 2007
Author: Seamus2829 from United States
If you consider yourself a lover of World Music as I am, you owe yourself a major treat by seeking out 'When The Road Bends:Tales Of A Gypsy Caravan'. This is a glowing document of the Romani culture (or as it is known to most as the rather unfortunate label of Gypsy)in song and dance. It gives the viewer a brief overview of the Romani people, where they originally came from,and where they've ended up (and not without a great deal of prejudice & hatred by small minded people). Most of the film is a document of a tour that was organized by the independent record label, 'World Village',as an overview of Rom music from India,Spain,Romania,Macedonia,etc. Probably the best known personae representing Romani music is Esma Redzepova, who has been out there singing for well over 40 years, and is recognized by the United Nations for her humanitarian work with children,by adopting over 45 Rom children (pretty impressive so far, no?). The film also merits equal attention to Taraf de Haidouks,Fanfare Ciocarlia,to mention a few. The film besides being shot on tour in the U.S. & Canada, also features footage shot in the performers respective countries, and features interview footage with the musicians,as well. To sum it all up,this film is a celebration of a culture that has long been looked down upon with suspicion & prejudice. It reminded me a lot of another film in a similar vein (Tony Gatliff's 'Latcho Drom'--or,Safe Journey', from 1993,which also told the story of the Romani people,but in a wordless,almost cinema verite style that I admired big time). You may have to do a bit of searching for this one, as it is known by a few other titles,depending (it's also called Gypsy Caravan,or just 'When The Road Bends'). At the two screenings I attended, people were really getting their groove on with the music & dance in this film (especially the Flamenco segments). The soundtrack CD is also worth busting your wallet open for.
3 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Love and Charm, 29 October 2007
Author: John DeSando (email@example.com) from Columbus, Ohio
"Gypsy" has long been for gadjos synonymous with murder and theft. Not
so after Gypsy Caravan, a documentary about musical Romani bands from
four countries touring to sold out audiences, who react
enthusiastically to the varied and energetic performances by a
naturally charismatic people, whose fleshy elders personify the lusts
of living apparent from their blistering violin playing to their
indulgences in fried food and eccentric marriages.
It is not possible to ignore the Gypsies' charisma: Unforgettable is Esma Redzepova, a heavy Macedonian diva who occupies the heart of the film's message about an often maligned culture being rehabbed in front of our eyes by charming music and dance. Her 47 adopted kids are testimony to the holding power of Gypsy family; she couldn't possibly be called anything but "Queen of the Gypsies." Part of the enchanting mood is due to the lensing of the famous documentarian Albert Maysles, along with Alain de Halleux, who captures the folds and creases of older faces along with the freshness of babies and energy of teenage performers.
Legendary performer Taraf de Haidouks holds a wedding for his 13-year-old daughter that involves an entire Romanian village, as appropriate a symbol of the enduring love and charm of the Gypsy culture.
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Good music, bad movie, 13 July 2007
Author: Chris Knipp from Berkeley, California
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This documentary is based on a North American concert tour of the same
name conducted in 1999 and 2001 involving five well-known groups of
musicians, singers, and dancers of the Romani people hailing from four
countries--India, Macedonia, Romania and Spain. Each group is
distinctive. Esma Redepova from Skopje, Macedonia, who leads off the
performance, is a portly diva of great energy and a certain age whose
commanding voice evokes Tibet, India, and Flamenco. Called "the queen
of the gypsies," she's noted as a humanitarian fund-raiser and brought
up dozens of orphans whom she turned into musicians. Antonio El Pipa,
from Jerez de la Frontera in Spain, dances Flamenco style with his aunt
Juana, whose near-bass voice has the authentic raspy deep-throated wail
to it, and when she sings of having found God after her son and husband
were relieved of their drug addiction, it still sounds like classic
Flamenco. Taraf de Haidouks ("band of outlaws") from the village of
Clejani, Romania, headed by the elderly Nicolai Neaucescu, a tireless,
toothless, chain-smoking busker, is more the kind of group one may
associate with "gypsy" music--lots of wailing strings and wailing men
in shabby suits and rumpled hats. Rather similar is Fanfare Ciocarlia,
a 12-piece brass band from Zece Prajini, another Romanian village near
the Moldavian border. Their music blends Middle Eastern, Turkish, and
Slavic elements and has klezmer overtones. Odder is Maharaja (AKA
Musafir) from Rajisthan, India, three fine musicians in gorgeous attire
playing in a folkloric style that suggests Indian and Arabic music and
accompanying a cross-dressing self-taught Sufi-style dancer, Sayari
Sapera, who spins around on his knees: better camera work would have
shown the details of this feat; but camera work is one of several areas
in which this film does not excel.
'Gypsy Caravan''--why was the tour so titled when "gypsy" is a pejorative term for the Roma people based on a false derivation from Egypt?--is a film that does too much with other things and not enough with the music. It is interesting, though not entirely surprising, that the groups in the show spoke a lot of different languages but felt a common bond; it's slightly embarrassing fun to see the Indians do a take-off on Flamenco; and all the groups, after bonding on the bus and during down times, somehow team up and blend for a finale toward the end of the tour. As shown in films constantly spliced in, showing the performers in their various home countries, each group has a story of trials and sufferings, poverty, humility, and hard-won success. The cross-dressing dancer was orphaned as a child; Tarif's super-speedy lead violinist lost his youngest daughter in a terrible accident; we've already mentioned Aunt Juana's addict male family members; and one of the notables passes away enroute.
But do we have to follow the groups in motels and crowded together on the bus, or being told of baggage limitations on US planes? Perhaps all this would have worked, had the mostly clumsy photography not been done with what Manohla Dargis calls "consumer-grade video" cameras--and if, contrary to what some have commented, the transitions from music to talk to on-location background had not so often been so far from smooth. Even this might have been eminently forgivable if the performances were allowed to play through. They never are. A minute or two of music, singing, or dancing--and off to the interviews or the shots of somebody's tiny cottage or of tour members dozing or schmoozing on the bus.
Which brings us to the inevitable comparison. There was a film about the range of Romani music made fourteen years ago. At the time it seemed the music was better than the film-making, but Tony Gatlif's 'Latcho Drom' (1993) looks like a masterpiece now, and it may be the Gatlif movie that most suits his meandering, impressionistic style.
'Latcho Drom' uses Romani musicians from seven countries and wordlessly, focusing on the performances, moves across the planet from where the Roma are believed to have begun, in India, to Egypt, and on to Turkey, Romania, Hungary, France, and Spain. Not only does Gatlif's film allow the music to sing, over a wider range of national variations and with a richer sense of locale since each performance is at home rather than on an American stage. But somehow also the suffering of this beleaguered tribe, and the way they've focused their hard times into musical art, emerges more clearly in 'Latcho Drom' than in 'Gypsy Caravan,' despite the latter's plethora of words. One of the things you'll never forget is seeing and hearing a Rom survivor of Auschwitz--reminding us that the gypsies were annihilated with gays, Jews, and communists by the Nazis--play a searing dirge expressing his pain against a haunting visual background. And there's also time to see a real "gypsy caravan" of cars and buggies and hear a Parisian tribute to Django Reinhardt, the Romani guitarist who left an indelible mark on jazz music. Latcho Drom (which means "safe journey") has a remarkable flow, and one goes out with the bluesy sounds of the culture in one's ears and a strong sense of the family resemblances between the various styles as one goes westward with the Romani Diaspora.
It's rather sad to learn that the legendary documentarian Albert Maysles was one of the cameramen for 'Gypsy Caravan.' This film, which has too much good material too poorly filmed and organized, is as chintzy and cluttered as some of the Roma houses where the interviews are staged. Too bad Jasmine Dellal didn't let the music speak for itself as Tony Gatlif did.
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
very powerful, tantalizing, 8 July 2007
Author: marymorrissey from United States
Funny how some comments on this film are only in the discussion section, as solo cries d'esprit. anyway... the one saying "tour de force" was certainly right, on the level of pure film-making this movie is dazzling. I was also really impressed with the way in which the director generally used the music as a springboard to continue the "narrative" in a way that was very consistently magical. A little more time was taken with some of the things that were most extraordinary, musically. I mean, compare this movie with something like buena vista social club... it can't be done this is so vasty superior a piece of work, let alone that its so much more ambitious, that the subject matter is really a lot richer and mined to so much greater um yield.
5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Too much film; not enough music, 11 July 2007
Author: jemery from Boston
Wonderful music. I wish that film makers would get over their fear of music. Time after time these wonderful musicians would begin to meld on stage into a gorgeous multi-ethnic stew of style and spirit, and bang-o, off we'd go to Roumania or Macedonia to see the musicians on their home ground. There's a place for both, of course, but more often than not the latter occurred at the expense of the former. Then there was an astonishingly bad editing choice at the end of the film, when a perfect coda of sadness and longing was stepped on by the film maker in favor of the big bang theory of ending movies. The musicians deserved better and the audience deserved better.
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Stunning!, 1 April 2008
Author: patricia-resnick from California
I stumbled upon this on PBS, and I'm enchanted. I've always been fascinated by the Romani culture and history, and there is so much of that here, tucked in between the songs. There is so much good information here about a people who have been horribly misunderstood and persecuted for most of their history. The movie's approach of wrapping the history and culture into the music, and the stories of the musicians, works very well. The artists, from India, Macedonia, Romania, Spain...all very different, but springing from the same place in the heart. Beautiful, soulful music from beautiful, soulful people. I especially enjoyed Esma, and her stories of life with her husband, Stevo. But I also loved Maharajah, and the other bands. The whole thing is beautifully done. I'll be buying this so I can watch it at my leisure. Don't miss it if you have a chance to see it.
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Wonderful insight into a very different culture, 16 December 2007
Author: Redcitykev from United Kingdom
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This fascinating, insightful and moving film does for the Roma what The
Buena Vista Social Club did for the musicians of Cuba.
In allowing the leading characters room to tell their own tales the director, Jasmine Dellal, gives us, the viewer, the opportunity to see into a culture which is at one and the same time foreign and similar. Foreign because of the history, traditions and music of the Roma people, similar because of the everyday problems faced by them, be they lack of money, poor housing, ignorance, fear etc - ie all the things that make all of us human.
Out of this emerges some unforgettable characters, like Esma. Esma is the Queen of the Gypsies - officially apparently - and has a voice to die for, clear, soulful, and with more talent than a 1,000 X factor winners put together! Maharaja are an Indian ensemble which has fun playing up to the Bollywood imagery, whilst turning out some of the best Raga I've heard since the heydays of Ravi Shanker! Of course there are others, all of whom are allowed their space within the film, but the saddest has to be the violin maestro Nicolae Neacsu, an elderly man I would have been proud to have called uncle. For those who have not as yet seen the film I will not say what happens, but those who have must agree it is very moving.
If there are any faults with the film it is these: Firstly, the relationship between the wider American society and the touring Roma could have been better explored - just one note left in an hotel reception guest book gives a chilling reminder of the ignorance still surrounding these people. Secondly, the film could have been 30 minutes longer and given us more of the concert footage. I guess I will just have to hunt out the soundtrack to hear all of the wonderful music from the film.
Hop aboard the caravan, 4 July 2010
Author: Roland E. Zwick (firstname.lastname@example.org) from United States
A few years back, five groups of musicians and performers, from four
different countries - India, Romania, Macedonia, Spain - yet all united
by their common gypsy heritage, set off on a six-week tour through
North America that came to be known as the Gypsy Caravan. Albert
Maysles' "When the Road Bends: Tales of a Gypsy Caravan" is a
documentary account of that tour.
The movie makes it clear that gypsy music has its roots firmly planted in personal hardship and social protest, that it is an organic response to the bigotry and oppression gypsies have suffered under from time immemorial.
The filmmakers spend much of their time interviewing the performers either behind-the-scenes at rehearsals or on the bus the group travels on from one location to the next. It is here that we see the camaraderie that develops among the members, as well as the personal conflicts and artistic disputes that are an inevitable part of any group activity. But it is when they are all on stage, performing to packed houses in cities like New York, Miami, San Francisco, etc., that we feel the sheer joy that comes from sharing one's passion with an enraptured audience.
The movie makers also travel to some of the performers' native towns and villages to try and get a feel for who these people truly are and the lands and cultures from which they spring.
The result is a moving, informative, and musically enriching glimpse into a people and an art form that few Westerners know much, if anything, about.
|Page 1 of 2:|| |
|Plot summary||Plot synopsis||Ratings|
|Awards||Newsgroup reviews||External reviews|
|Official site||Plot keywords||Main details|
|Your user reviews||Your vote history|