The good, the bad, and the Gypsy : constant positive representation and use of reversed negative stereotypes as ‘sympathy triggers’ in Gypsy cinema
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Gypsies or Roma are one of the minorities frequently represented in film, whenever we talk about European or American film; within this context Russian and Eastern European cinema seems to offer the richest palette of portrayals, as in this region Roma represent an important and controversial minority. Film scholars agreed that from the moment when Roma appeared on screen and until the last decades when a shift toward a more realistic approach can be detected, their filmic representations were predominantly stereotypic and highly exoticized. Films from the last decades show more interest in the depiction of poverty, discrimination and marginalization, but stereotypical representation is still present and dominant. The purpose of this paper is to focus on several stereotypes generally perceived as negative stereotypes (theft, drunkenness, vulgar language, falseness, etc.) and to demonstrate that in relation to Gypsy representations on screen, these stereotypes change their function, trying to inculcate upon the viewer sympathetic feelings and accentuating the gap between the Roma cinematic image and the dominant ideology about them in the societies where they live. This thesis will examine negative stereotypes and their function in some of the most representative films of the Gypsy cinema: Skupljaci perja / I Even Met Happy Gypsies (Petrović 1967), Tabor ukhodit v Nebo/ Gypsy Camp Goes to Heaven or Queen of the Gypsies (Loteanu 1976), Ko to tamo peva? / Who’s Singin’ Over There? (Sijan 1980), Dom za vesanje / Time of the Gypsies Gypsies (Kusturica 1988), Gadjo Dillo / The Crazy Stranger (Gatlif 1997), Dallas Pashamende / Dallas among Us (Pejo 2005), and Baklava (Petrov 2007). Special attention will be paid to the relationship between the subjects of representation (Roma), their authors (the directors), and their consumers (the viewers).