Latcho Drom critiquePosted: March 29, 2012
Despite Tony Gatlif’s own Romani ancestry, the stance of Latcho Drom fosters an outsider’s gaze of looking into an interior world, over high walls, into courtyards, onto a nomad’s trail, etc. This serves to exoticize the subjects: Roma are a spectacle on display. Ironically, Roma sometimes do perform musically for outsiders in this way, even exoticizing themselves for marketing purposes; the film however obfuscates the nuances and historical and economic reasons for this process. This stance ignores the fact that the Romani world is not impervious to outsiders and that Roma often play their music precisely for outsiders and have done so for centuries. While harassment and abuse are depicted often and well, the film stereotypes Roma as musical, victimized, and passionate-certainly a step up than the more common image of Roma as thieving, musical, and passionate. Many Roma are not musicians and are not passionate; all however, face prejudice. For classroom use, Latcho Drom raises interesting questions about performance and representation and about the relationship between music and discrimination among Europe’s largest minority.