Movie Reviews
9:00 am
Fri October 26, 2007

When the Road Bends: Tales of a Gypsy Caravan

Love and Charm

"Gypsy" has long been for gadjos synonymous with murder and theft. Not so after Gypsy Caravan, a documentary about musical Romani bands from four countries touring to sold out audiences, who react enthusiastically to the varied and energetic performances by a naturally charismatic people, whose fleshy elders personify the lusts of living apparent from their blistering violin playing to their indulgences in fried food and eccentric marriages.

It is not possible to ignore the Gypsies' charisma: Unforgettable is Esma Redzepova, a heavy Macedonian diva who occupies the heart of the film's message about an often maligned culture being rehabbed in front of our eyes by charming music and dance. Her 47 adopted kids are testimony to the holding power of Gypsy family; she couldn't possibly be called anything but "Queen of the Gypsies."

Part of the enchanting mood is due to the lensing of the famous documentarian Albert Maysles, along with Alain de Halleux, who captures the folds and creases of older faces along with the freshness of babies and energy of teenage performers. Legendary performer Taraf de Haidouks holds a wedding for his 13-year-old daughter that involves an entire Romanian village, as appropriate a symbol of the enduring love and charm of the Gypsy culture.