The Gypsy Camp Rolls into the Sky

[Табор уходит в небо]

USSR, Mosfilm (Experimental Creative Unit), 1976
Color, 96 minutes
Russian with English subtitles

Director: Emil' Lotianu

Screenplay: Emil' Lotianu (based on a story by Maksim Gor'kii)

Cinematography: Sergei Vronskii

Production design: Feliks Iasiukevich

Costume design: Mikael Antonian

Music: Evgenii Doga

Cast: Svetlana Toma, Grigore Grigoriu, Pavel Andreichenko, Sergiu Finiti,Ion Sandri Shkurya, Borislav Brondukov

Awards: Golden Seashell at theSan Sebastián International Film Festival in (1976, Spain); Audience Jury award for Best Director at the International Festival in Belgrade (Yugoslavia, 1977); Best Actress award at the International Film Festival in Panama (1977).

Based on the story "Makar Chudra" by Maksim Gor'kii, The Gypsy Camp Rolls into the Sky is a colorful, sensuous, and musically accomplished contribution to Russia's long tradition of romanticized gypsies.  Starting with Aleksandr Pushkin's poem "Gypsies" (1824) and culminating in the creation of the gypsy theater "Romen" in Moscow in 1931, gypsy culture has embodied the exotic, mysterious, and passionate "other-in-here" for Russian and Soviet audiences alike.  Coming from Moldavia, which was densely populated by Roma, Lotianu was well-suited to strike a balance between the folkloric and the poetic, and between incorporating authentic elements of gypsy culture and satisfying audiences' thirst for an exotic spectacle.

Gor'kii's story serves as a blueprint for Lotianu's film, which is simultaneously more time and place specific (the film opens on New Year's eve of 1900 in the Carpathian mountains) and more symbolic, in transforming the story of love between two gypsies—Luiku Zobar (Grigore Grigoriu) and Radda (Svetlana Toma)—into an excuse for a series of song-and-dance numbers that punctuate every narrative turn.  A free spirit, Luiku wanders around stealing horses until, as he lies wounded after a wild chase, he meets Radda.  She is beautiful, wild—and dabbles in witchcraft.  Luiku's fate is sealed: he has to have Radda even if, in trying to steal a white mare for her, he barely escapes hanging.  But the lovers know that neither of them is willing to sacrifice freedom for love and the tragic confrontation ensues.

The lead actors' choreographed movements create a stunning visual display, complemented by the cast of real gypsy performers, including the cameo appearance of a star of the "Romen" theater, Lialia Chernaia.  The soundtrack consists of a dozen gypsy songs, collected all over the Soviet Union and given a commercial "face-lift" through an orchestral arrangement.  The film is shot almost entirely on location in the Carpathian mountains and valleys.  A widescreen extravaganza, The Gypsy Camp Rolls into the Sky is an appealing hybrid of poetic cinema and Bollywood aesthetics.

After his script was rejected by the Moldova film studio, Lotianu turned to Grigorii Chukhrai's Experimental Creative Unit (ETO) at Mosfilm studio.  As with other ETO projects, The Gypsy Camp proved to be a box-office success: 69 million viewers watched the film upon its release.


Emil' Lotianu

Born in the Moldavian village of Clocusna, Emil' Lotianu briefly studied to be an actor at the Moscow Art Theater studio before enrolling in the directing department of the State Filmmaking Institute (VGIK).  After graduating, Lotianu worked at the Moldova film studio, where he made his first films.  Starting in the mid-1970s, he worked at  Mosfilm studio, achieving international acclaim with such films as Lautary and Gypsy Camp Rolls into the Sky (both winners of awards at the San Sebastián International Film Festival), My Tender and Affectionate Beast (a Chekhov adaptation; nominated for the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival), and Anna Pavlova.  Besides directing his films, Lotianu wrote the scripts for all of his major films and briefly worked for Moldavian television.  He died in 2003.

Director Filmography

1959    The Big Mountain
1960    There Was a Young Boy
1963    Wait for Us at Dawn
1966    Red Meadows
1967    Fresco on the White
1968    This Moment
1970    Academician Tarasevich
1971    Lautary (Fiddlers)
1974    The Echo of a Torrid Valley
1976    The Gypsy Camp Rolls into the Sky
1978    My Tender and Affectionate Beast
1983    Anna Pavlova
1987    Luceafarul (Morning Star) TV
1993    The Shell

Writer Filmography

1966    Red Glades
1971    Lautary (Fiddlers)
1976    The Gypsy Camp Rolls into the Sky
1978    My Tender and Affectionate Beast
1983    Anna Pavlova
1987    Luceafarul (Morning Star) TV
1989    Two People at the Brink of Time

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