30 June 2013 | chaos-rampant
Softened gypsy gloom
This will carry familiar echoes for everyone living from the Danube to the Aegean and perhaps as far east as Istanbul and Armenia; it is roughly the same soul in these places, even though the trivial corners of appearance change. It depicts a rowdy, messy life, full of gambling, cheating, childishness, violence, headstrong passions, song and selfishness, the same mentality that explains all the wars in the area, the ancient animosities, as well as why my country is in shambles these days: too long not masters of our world, we still think it is somebody else's business.
But it's not just human idiocy it depicts, it's not a smarmy film. It's something dumb (as in impossible to articulate) in the blood itself, something that is outwards sloppy, as are the people and places, as is the film, but that's because it's still halfway in trying to fathom itself, the need to cry out in song but no words will come. A softer gloom than we find above the Danube, less mannered (less 'European') than the Czechs, less introspective than further north.
Our gypsy protagonist, a drunkard who is always trying to pawn his mother's TV set and hopping between petty jobs, is brought before a judge and asked why he threw feathers from the back of the car; he doesn't know himself, he'll pay the fine. A train whistles by out the window. It all turns around bartering, deceit and desire to escape, all of them evident in the girl's seduction by the trucker with the handpuppet.
It's aimless, sloppy but lovable, the same cinematic air the people it depicts breath out. It is not Parajanov, but it'll do.
One sees how Kusturica must have seen this, and combined it with Tarkovsky's camera to make Time of the Gypsies.