Vengo - DVD Cover


Country: Spain and France
Release Date: October 4, 2000
Genre(s): Musical / Drama
Director: Tony Gatlif
Cast: Antonio Canales, Orestes Villasan, Antonio Dechent, Juan Luis Corrientes
Awards: César Awards: Best Music Written for a Film, Étoiles d'or du cinéma français: Composer of original music

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Antonio Canales

The parched, empty landscape of southern Spain is the setting for a tale of passion, music and revenge in Tony Gatlif’s Vengo. After his brother has murdered a member of a rival gypsy clan and gone into hiding, Caco becomes both the de facto figurehead of his ‘family’ and protector of his handicapped nephew. As tensions mount between the two clans, the threats of revenge against the nephew for the crime of his father are played out against a backdrop of rapturous flamenco music and dance performances. Award-winning writer director Gatlif (Latcho Drome, Gadjo Dilo) captures both the musical culture of Spain’s Andalusia region and the blood lust of vengeance in bold, beautiful cinematic language.



Directed by: Tony Gatlif

Produced by: Tony Gatlif and Luis Ángel Bellaba

Written by: Tony Gatlif and David Trueba

Cast: Antonio Canales, Orestes Villasan, Antonio Dechent, Juan Luis Corrientes

Music  by: Tony Gatlif

Cinematography: Thierry Pouget

Editing by: Pauline Dairou

Release date: October 4, 2000

Running time: 90 minutes

Country : Spain – France

Language: Spanish – French

Amazon Customers Reviews

Flamenco Puro
I lived in a small village in Andalucia for many years. I am very grateful that I can appreciate this film for what it is, a visual love poem to the place, people and passions of the region as Gatlif’s previous film Latcho Drom was to all of Roma culture. Gatlif pays meticulous attention to every detail of how flamenco music and its people infuse and help define everyday Spanish life to this day. It begins with a remarkable homage to flamenco’s Muslim heritage featuring a living flamenco legend, Tomatito. Although much is lost in the translation of the subtitles, lovers of a simpler, truly family-centered life will treasure poignant, visually satisfying vignettes of modern Spanish village life. An entire family living together and lovingly caring for a disabled family member. Gathering pomegranates together. The enormous paella outside cooking to serve 50 family members at a christening. People greeting one another as they get on the bus (this scene is from the heartbreakingly delightful short on the DVD which takes place in the sun-parched, narrow city streets of Almeria’s gypsy neighborhood.). The cemetery rituals. The painted shutters and lace curtains on the windows. The family’s widows – harvesting olives, whitewashing graffiti off the village walls, cleaning up after the previous nights’ flamenco party. And the spontaneous outbursts of clapping, singing and dancing that occur anywhere – in the street, under a tree, on the bus. These are all scenes still visible every day; they were not staged for a movie.

The melodrama in this film is no different from the polite, socially acceptable melodramas that play out every day in our own society; reputations, families, relationships are destroyed in a very refined, sanitary, occult manner. The Spanish, and the gypsies in particular, have no concern for such posturing and show what is in their heart for all to see, even if it is the darkest pangs of human emotions. From this comes the unequaled, boundless complexity and depth of flamenco.

I have been very fortunate to study flamenco with an Andalucian gypsy who grew up with and learned from Spain’s greatest flamenco artists, among them her most beloved dancer, Carmen Amaya. To understand this film, flamenco, and Spain, one must abandon all attempts to understand it and allow the duende – the spirit of flamenco – possess one’s senses and one’s soul. Flamenco is not contrived enough to worry itself about a theme, a story line or impressing an audience. It arises from a place deep within the soul that most of us keep carefully guarded and shut off. That Gatlif has exposed it, once again, for us to experience I’m certain is success enough for him.

Attention Flamenco Aficionados
This is a powerful , hipnotic, tour de force movie that captures the soul of flamenco. Although it is not a documentary and is a drama it has the feel of a documentary. This is probably because the realism is brought out by Algerian-born director Tony Gatlif’s use of “real” flamenco artists as opposed to actors. The lead is taken by Antonio Canales who in real life is a renowned dancer. Ironically he does not dance in the film but plays the role of a leader of a gypsy clan that is at odds with a rival clan of gypsies. The thin plot evolves around avenging the death of a family member of the rival clan. Caco is the name of Canales in the movie and he is a man with a heavy heart after the death of his young daughter and the responsibility of keeping his clan together and protecting his nephew who suffers, although you’d hardly know it, from cerebral palsy. Many of the scenes involving Caco and his nephew are funny as they romp from bar to as Caco looks to find him a “good time” with some beautiful women. The plot is nothing exceptional but the film draws it’s superb power from the fantastic musical performances. Set in Andalusia, the stark landscape, the whitewashed churches contrasting with the dressed in black clan is a powerful reminder of the roaming gypsy existence steeped in a long ancestral heritage. The clan moves about in old cars, and a flat bed truck that doubles as a stage as they set up daily for their night of wine, dance and music. The fiery flamenco music is the real reason to see this movie. The performances by such greats as Tomatito, La Caita, Gritos de Guerra and La Paquera is nothing short of spellbinding. The close camera work reveals the duende in the faces of the performers as they collaborate for the best scenes of the movie, and there are many of them as it is full of emotion. An interesting aspect of this movie is how director Gatliff incorporates the history and ethnic mixes of flamenco into the film by using Sheik Ahmad Al Tuni as a vocalist on several songs amidst Turkish flutes blown by Kudsi Erguner, interwoven by masterful guitar work by Emilio Fernandez de Los Santos and Ramon Pisa Borja, who also sings on occcasion. Naturally all of the performances are accentuated by palmas(clapping), gritos( guttural shout outs) and lively percussion. Many of the singing and dancing performances are done by women and the harsh , throaty sounds emanate and penetrate deep from their souls. I keep saying performance but in actuality you feel as though you are not watching a performance but are watching a lively get together of family members; it is truly amazing stuff that will captivate you. The spontaneity of the clan in action is a dervish whirlwind of activity that is the extended family personified. As the clan adds color to the landscape by bringing out their huge pillows and blankets, the tranformation begins to take shape as the music starts to capture the spirit of southern Spain.You are more of a witness to an extraordinary celebration of life in spite of it’s sometimes tragic consequences. If you love flamenco than you will love this movie. If you are new to or have limited knowledge of flamenco you will be engrossed and probably seek out some flamenco music afterwards. This is a powerful piece that reveals the soul of flamenco. Highly recommended for flamenco aficionados.

I suppose it should be possible to find a film as beautiful
It’s funny that a critic from the new york times could know so little about film. I will not say much except this is one of the most simple, most beautiful stories made into cinema; there is absolutely no artifice, no tricks, and every detail is pure and genuine. Tony uses faces Kurasawa could’ve killed for. You ain’t seen nothing if you ain’t seen this. The music, artists like Gritos de Guerra, La Caita, Sheik al Tuni, (seemingly unavailable on record, but better than anything I’ve heard,) seems to capture at once the joy and sorrow bound up in human life. Likewise the players, most not actors. In fact, the music is so integrated into the lives of the characters, in the end there is no division. For reviewers of respected periodicals, we would explain this is what is called thematic. So much for the standards of education in journalism. Even reviewers who really liked this movie did not fully understand this; like most really great art, it is ahead of the curve. I suppose it should be possible to find a film as beautiful as this, as simple and captivating, but none come to mind. Skip “Vengo” and your life will certainly be less rich.

Vengo, 8.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating


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The parched, empty landscape of southern Spain is the setting for a tale of passion, music and revenge in Tony Gatlif’s Vengo. After his brother has murdered a member of a rival gypsy clan and gone into hiding, Caco becomes both the de facto figurehead of his ‘family’ and...
Posted 08 Feb 2011

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