Essay, Research Paper: Latcho Drom

Anthropology

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In one paragraph describe the subjects of the documentary. Tell who they are,
where the live, and why the film was made. Through the bittersweet music of the
Gypsies, or Roms, and striking photography of India, Egypt, Turkey, Romania,
Hungary, Slovakia, France, and Spain, ‘Latcho Drom’ does just what it sets
out to do: evoke both the sorrow and the joy of this nomadic people, whose
strong sense of community and tradition enables them to survive their treatment
as outcasts. This documentary gives a panoramic view of the extraordinary
variety of the Rom's songs, music and dances in more than eight countries. It
captures the resilient perseverance of the Gypsies through years of persecution
and poverty. The treasures of Gypsy heritage throughout the world, from India to
Spain, make up an exceptional musical palette… Since leaving ancient India
around the year AD 1000 on their westward journey, the Gypsies have constantly
contributed to our cultural life in a multitude of ways. Scapegoats of our
sedentary world, targets of the most primitive social rejection or the most
rabid literary or cinematographic romanticism, they pursue their quest far from
our technological and social upheaval. The Gypsies live a constant paradox: in
spite of their refusal to be integrated, they have become the (sometimes
exclusive) repository of the culture of the country they inhabit. Throwing
tradition and fashion to the wind, the Gypsies have always used their
versatility and sense of improvisation to adapt their musical style to others
they discover during their travels. Each time traces of the previous country
mark them as foreigners who stick out amid their now hosts. The director, Tony
Galtif himself is a descendant of the Rom tribe. In this documentary is his
effort to create a dazzling musical and anthology of this forgotten culture.
Mixture of good and evil: In the scene where a small boy and his mother are
waiting at a railway station, the director tries to bring out the belief of the
Rom people about human nature being good. In that scene, the boy offers a small
amount of money to one of the Rom musicians to play him a song, the musician
laughs at the boy, takes the money and puts it back into the boy’s pocket, and
then plays music for the boy for free. His group joins in, and they play
delightful music for the small boy. This is a really touching scene, I thought.
On the other hand, the gypsies through their songs and music, depict their
history. A history which has always been stained with sadness. The gypsies have
been persecuted wherever they went, they were never considered part of any
society other than their own. The gypsies strongly curse their fate, and show
their unhappiness towards these societies of people who have never given them
any acceptance. Man subjugated by nature: The gypsies sing of their history,
with a sad tone. They believe it is their fate to be “wanderers”. They
strongly resent this fate, because it has brought with it sadness. Life demands
to have at least some constants, but in the lives of this gypsies, the only
constant is their change, their journey to a new place. Over these years, not
much has changed about their life, they are still persecuted. This has lead to
the strong fortification of the belief that they have little control over their
fate, and that they cannot surpass the conditions that this life has set for
them. Present Oriented: This is a particularly striking feature of their
culture. The very fact that they are constantly on the move, travelling from one
place to another, clearly highlights their strong faith in the importance of the
present. They live in the present, since they are not aware of what the future
has in store for them, they don’t plan their lives for future needs, the way
we do. At the same time, they associate their life also with their past, their
history, their traditional values. Their songs of history bring out their sad
past… Growing: The gypsies are excellent musicians. Being a musician means
constantly choosing between two options: either acting as the fierce guardian
angel of a given musical style, or using the wealth of information gathered
during their travels to shuffle the deck. They seek new forms of music in this
quest of theirs. They try to develop the music to fit their present. Thus their
music is one aspect, that brings out that their activities are highly
characterized by their own inner self-development. Social Relationships: This is
another very dominant feature in the culture of the Rom people. Their social
relations always involve group participation. No musician, plays his music
alone, he functions as part of a group of musicians. They work as a small
community, always travelling to a new place. Their singing and dancing is always
in a group. They do not seek any kind of an individuality. D. what are the
effects of outside influences on this culture? Is this culture changing? what
will be gained/lost? The gypsies in different countries have a different
background. We see that the music of the Rom people in India is not the same as
that of the gypsies in Spain. This shows that the “external factors” have
changed the life-style of the gypsies. The gypsies in India and Egypt have a
different sense of dressing than their counterparts in other European countries.
They have a more traditional and rural dressing code, whereas the gypsies in the
different European countries have adapted a more western dress code, this is
seen in the documentary in the form of the clothes that the gypsies in different
countries wear, suits, shirts, ghaghra (Hindi for a long skirt), jhaba (Arabic
for long capes)… Some of the European gypsies don’t live as nomadic a life
as their Asian counterparts. Since Europe is more western and an advanced unit,
as compared to countries like India and Egypt, the lifestyle of the European
gypsies clearly varies. This shows that their culture has changed. Music and
dance which is a very important element of their culture, also faces change,
almost daily, as the gypsies try to adapt new and more creative forms of songs
and dances. This change is very beautiful, as it brings out not one, but the
many faces of the rich Gypsy culture. It depicts their values, their ideas. At
the same time, they have managed to keep their traditional art forms, values and
ideas alive. Thus their life and their art has a lot to gain from these changes,
and very little to be lost.
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