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68 of 70 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 21, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
This is an astonishing film. It traces the Rom people from India to Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Slovakia, Hungary, France and Spain, through their music and dance. There is very little dialogue, and little explanation, except at the film's beginning, which briefly states that the Rom left India hundreds of years ago and made their way north, for reasons now unclear.

Further explanation is not really needed, however, as one can see for oneself the poverty, misery, and oppression that the Rom suffer worldwide, to this day. In one particularly poignant cut, an elderly Rom woman sings about Auschwitz. "In Auschwitz we had no bread," she sings. "The kapos were so cruel." She holds a small photograph, perhaps of her father or husband who perished, and one sees the number tattooed on her arm. Other songs remark upon the Roma's constant flight from hatred and oppression. One sees, here, in this film, as they are chased from camp sites, forced to move their caravans.

In the closing segment, a family is chased from abandoned buildings in which they had been squatting. They sing as the doors and windows are bricked up, and the police arrive. "Why does your evil mouth spit on me?" a chanteuse wails, in the same style and strain of music one had heard from her Roma compatriots at the film's beginning, in India. "Why do you treat me like a dog?"

Most remarkably, however, this film juxtaposes the Roma's dignity with their suffering. We see, firsthand, their poverty, the social ostracism they face ubiquitously. Yet we also see their ingrained joy of living, their indomitable spirit. The film provides a magnificent, delightful musical display of multi-lingual Rom genius, recounting in song and dance their history and the extent of their travels.

It is a gift to--and from--the Rom, to all humanity.

--Alyssa A. Lappen
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 1999
Format: VHS TapeVerified Purchase
The best music movie I have ever seen. I've seen it 5 times (twice in the theater the first weekend it was in town), I own a copy, and I know I will watch it over and over for the rest of my life--and I am not often given to such excessive emotion or fanaticism about a movie. Latcho Drom helped me develop a new appreciation for the Rom people, and *all* the musical performances in the film--as varied as they are--connect with feelings so elemental and moving that it is hard to describe. The cinematography, the editing, the recording--everything about Latcho Drom is extremely well done. And the people are compelling, intense, and beautiful, too. See this movie. You will be enriched. (I must inform you that there are other more affordable sources for the video. Look around.) It may also be in your local video rental store. If not, convince somebody at a local college or museum to bring it to their film series. You must find a way to see it. You won't regret it! And while you're at it, look for Tony Gatlif's other films, which are also well worth your while.
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
If you've ever been interested in learning about Gypsy (or more accurately, Rom) culture and history, this is the film for you.Made by Tony Catlif, himself a Rom, the film (the title means "Safe Journey," a serious blessing in this culture) takes the viewer on the same path travelled by the gypsies themselves a thousand years ago. It begins in India, showing a gypsy band in a desolate spot, telling their own story in dance and song. He travels ever westward, through Egypt, Turkey, Eastern Europe, France, and finally Spain, where the stunning beauty of gypsy flamenco dance and music will hold you spellbound. There is no dialog: Catlif lets the lyrics of the songs, the language of the dances, and the unforgettable faces of the gypsies themselves tell the story. You'll feel like you've been given a brief but magical tour of a mysterious, rarely seen world. Gypsies have always been persecuted and ostracized; this film, made by one of their own, gives them a voice in their own language. END
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
Latcho Drom ("safe journey") is a visually stunning video, with nice camera-work, and the sound quality is excellent. My only complaint is that the translations/subtitles are not very thorough.
This is a fabulous journey with groups of Gypsies throughout the Middle East and Europe. A truly outstanding documentary that I highly recommend -- but it's more about visuals than about words. Writer/director Tony Gatlif, who is descended from the Rom himself, has created a memorable and poignant film in Latcho Drom. It won at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993 (the Prix Gervais, specifically). In this film, you travel with various groups of Gypsies through Rajasthan, Egypt, Turkey, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, France and Spain.
There's no dialog, and the songs these Gypsies sing are only partially translated. It's a "fly on the wall" experience, where the images speak for themselves. You will watch the joy, the pain, and the hardship of these people, all under the unblinking eye of the camera.
I think it will stay with you long after the movie ends, and as many times as I have watched this, it never fails to move me. It's a marvelous film, that probably could never have been made if Gatlif was not of the Romany people himself.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on July 12, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
The film Latcho Drom is a unique product, which is more like a 2 hour long music video, showcasing gypsy music (and sometimes dance) from all around the world. This is an amazing way of seeing the common treads that unite Roma (or gypsy) culture in all parts of the world, but also how these people have adapted to their surrounding by adopting bits and pieces of local traditions. This is also finally, a positive and maybe even objective look into Roma culture, free of stereotypes and prejudice. For fans of "Deep Forest", one of the songs from the film, the one from Slovakia, was sampled for one of their pieces on "Boheme." This film has rapid beats and heel-taping rythms, but also sad and melancholic songs and laments. Some images will make you want to get up and dance, while other can move you to tears, for example the old Roma lady singing about gypsy persecution at Auschwitz during WWII. A true pleasure to watch and listen to. I just hope there would now be a Latcho Drom 2 to explore the other regions of the world where Roma culture flourishes, but which were not included in the film.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 1999
Format: VHS Tape
By telling the whole tale through the music itself, this is one of the few films ever to help us understand that music and dance are almost as important as air and water to our survival as a species. The Roma have survived because they understand this centrality. Gatlif and the many incredible singers, musicians and dancers, give us the priceless gift of sharing this knowledge. We need to be raising our next generations with films like this.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on May 12, 2004
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
one of the most beautiful films of the past 20 years, almost shocking. what an extreme pity the film is not available on dvd so that it can be projected in home theater settings----a visually spectacular film on a large screen.
not a documentary in the usual sense in that there is no script or text, no interviews. the story is told wholly through gorgeous visuals and incredible music----and it is not any less informative for that fact! furthermore, by beginning in india and moving its way circuitously west to spain, one hears in sequence the transmutation of the musical styles---an obvious and simple yet truly amazing cinematic structure.
the sensitive viewer will absorb the pathos of rom people without difficulty. not a film for literalists, however, or those who need their cultural experiences explained to them. in this way the film is also very french.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2013
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I love this movie and have been waiting for years for a DVD of it. The VHS was available for a while for about $90, but I held off as I wanted to have a high quality copy. Unfortunately this DVD seems to be counterfeit and created from the VHS tape, and most descriptions on the cover are in Korean. I had my suspicion the moment I saw the cover, and then the print on the DVD disk itself. And then when I saw the movie, it became fully clear to me that I was right. Where regular DVDs sell for 19.99, I paid $28 for this. I am afraid that I have to keep this one, as I don't think any other copy was ever made by the producers. By the way, this movie is supposed to come with 3 sub-titles, including English, but the only the Korean one works. So it is your choice.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2006
Format: DVD
The Gypsies left their original homeland in northern India around 1000AD. This much has been established by historical and linguistic research, but the reason for their exodus westward is less certain. They reached Europe by the early C14th, crossing from Asia Minor by way of Crete and the Peloponnesus, and continued their dispersal westward and northward. By the end of the C14th they were already settled in large numbers in the Balkans and Danube lands, where an undeveloped economic structure and primitive technology gave Gypsy smiths and cobblers the chance to compete with local artisans. Early accounts of their arrival suggest that the curiosity and sympathy they originally aroused were accompanied by suspicion and hostlity, and soon their status changed dramatically from protected guests to persecuted outlaws. Within a 100 years of their first appearance, most countries in western Europe had passed savage laws for their expulsion: some even legislated to include the death penalty. 'Lacho Drom' is a wonderful travelogue of Rom music which traces this migration. The music and demeanour of the people says it all; languages that transcend regional barriers. Clearly, by Czechoslovakia, we have entered the Rom estate popularised by European literature's cliches, extolled by the excessive practice of all vices known to Man. The film's concluding lament caps an increasingly sad tale of persecution born, nevertheless, with brave equanimity. The appropriate footnote, if you can source it, is Joseph Koudelka's grave portfolio of Gypsies that was published by Aperture in the mid 1970s. I hestitate to trumpet aesthetics here, where it obviously hurts, but Koudelka's images are some of the most stunningly beautiful you'll ever see. There's nothing vouyeristic about Koudelka as in nearly every instance he's acknowledged by his subjects. And that implicit trust is rarely evinced anywhere, anytime, resulting in a candour that might well move you to tears.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
Others have amply described this film. I just want to note that it would be great on DVD, because unlike most documentaries, the production values are on a par with Hollywood feature films. It's shot in 35MM wide screen, beautifully staged and lit, with a high quality digital audio track. Seen on the big screen it has immense impact because it transcends the documentary genre.
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