Film #10: Safe Journey (1993)

aka: Latcho Drom
director: Tony Gatlif
language: Romany, et al.
length: 103 minutes
watched on: 14/Apr

This film has some really beautiful imagery and music in it… but it’s terribly boring. Perhaps it’s because I was told it was something that it wasn’t really… namely that it was a documentary about gypsies travelling across Europe. And that’s only sort of true; the film is filmed in a matter-of-fact style, although not one that I would immediately label “documentary”, but it’s the film, not the gypsies themselves, that travels during its hundred-minute course.

Basically it starts in the ancestral Romany homeland of northern India and goes west from there, through Iran and Turkey and into Europe, finally ending up in Spain. And in each location we’re treated to a performance by Romany musicians. And a lot of the music was genuinely really good – and as I say, beautiful imagery along the way too! – but just not at all memorable. And there’s absolutely nothing in between; one song will finish, the film will jump to the next location, and the next song will start. So I didn’t feel that the movie had enough to tie it together.

It also does that annoying thing of not subtitling enough of the lyrics – evidently only the ones that “matter” or whatever. I find this annoying… but maybe just because I’m the kind of person that wants an interlinear gloss with every line of dialogue in a film rather than the loose translation that one normally gets with subtitles!

For me, it was just a great big meh of a film…

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