A Great Musical Documentary on a Fascinating Subject
Seperado documents musician Gruff Rhys' (Super Furry Animals) quixotic adventure to track down his distant uncle René Griffiths, aka The Singing Gaucho, who appeared on 1970s Welsh television singing and playing Spanish guitar on horseback before disappearing from the airwaves. Through his own family history (with flashbacks to 1880's featuring some very dodgy fake beards), Gruff traces the fascinating but little-known subject of the Welsh diaspora to Patagonia, the only place outside of Wales where significant numbers of Welsh speakers are to be found.
Rene is something of a mysterious figure - he's just out of reach, always just one step ahead as Gruff gigs across Patagonia playing venues both large and small (at one point he performs to field of goats). Alongside the quest, the film focuses on a number of different aspects and consequences of the move down south, from the dangers the immigrants faced to their relationship and integration with the local populace, along with their struggle to keep welsh traditions and language alive. Gruff makes for a relaxed and convivial host, reacting to the everyone with warmth and humour as along the way he meets a variety of charming characters, from Tony da Gatorra and his home-built electronic instruments to the singing twin brothers continuing the tradition of the Latin Wesh gaucho.
The film is filled with whimsical turns and magical twists, from the musical inserts (it's a shame that the soundtrack was never released), to the magical red Power Ranger helmet (a stage prop which first appeared during Super Furry Animal gigs) Gruff uses to transport himself across continents. But does he find Rene? You'll have to watch the film to find out.
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