If you’ve ever visited Europe, especially a big city in the Mediterranean, then you might have crossed kids and women dressed colourfully, begging or trying to sell you carnations. Some of them are limping, some of them will try to impress you with their beauty or with their music. You might feel pity for these gypsies and give them some money, or you might simply avoid them without a second thought.
Regardless what you end up doing, the gypsy world is defined by a close society, a unique culture, customs and a distinguished way of living. In reality we know very little about them and how they live, we might have a vague image but it’s hard to say precisely.
In 1988 Emir Kusturica, a Serbian filmmaker, directs and co-writes Time of the Gypsies, a movie based on Romani culture and thier way of living. The film is the story of a young orphan boy named Perhan, who lives with his lame sister under their grandmother’s supervision. Perhan is a teenage boy, who would love to ‘escape’ from his reality, marry the love of his life and start a new and honest life – away from all these that surround him. But when is life that easy? As soon as he realises that his family won’t allow him to marry the woman he loves and after being betrayed by his brother, uncle and basically everyone he knows… He starts to join the dots, coming to the realization that he has to become really powerful, really wealthy to do whatever he wants. In order for this to happen, Perhan embraces the way of life that he’d always wanted to avoid. He starts stealing and organising scams.
Time of the Gypsies is not an easy movie to watch, it’s quite violent and in-your-face. However, it is directed in a way that manages to combine brutality with lyricism. The soundtrack of the film, composed by Goran Bregović, accompanies the plot perfectly, while the scenery creates some of the most beautiful images that I have ever seen in a movie. If this was a book, I would say that it belongs within the movement of magic realism. The input of the supernatural (Perhan has telekinetic powers, the floating bride) creates a dramatic but palpable atmosphere that captivates the viewer.
Emir Kusturica won the Best Director Award at the Cannes Film Festival. No doubt it’s a film that you will always be able to recall once you watch it. Its strong colourful images and its aesthetics are so powerful that you can’t forget. It’s quite the opposite of what we are used to. In Time of the Gypsies, fate dominates, it shows us that sometimes destiny is so strong that you can’t escape, no matter what you do — and unfortunately in this case it doesn’t even skip a generation.
Personally, I want to believe that I can do better, I can play the game in my own way, but when you watch a movie like this you wonder whether you are privileged for just being able to think like this.
Time Of The Gypsies at IMDb
Time Of The Gypsies at Wikipedia
Time Of The Gypsies at Rotten Tomatoes
Time Of The Gypsies (awards won and nominated for) at IMDb
Emir Kusturica at Wikipedia