A frenzied Transylvania
by Fabien Lemercier
"Give us a blade of straw to set fire to the world". Back at Cannes two years after winning Best Director award with Exils, French director Tony Gatlif closed the 2006 Official Selection today with the press screening of his latest fiery masterpiece, Transylvania [+see also:
Faithful to his convulsive style and returning to Romania eight years after making Gadjo Dolo, the director thrust himself without restraint into an adrenaline-filled film fuelled by music, alcohol and intense feelings. The film’s cast is superb, with a pulsating vein of madness running throughout the characters of Zingarina, Tchangalo and Marie, played respectively with enthusiasm, and even excess, by Asia Argento, Birol Unel (Head-On) and Amira Casar.
Part road-movie, part romance, Transylvania takes us on a journey through territory that is "a little Romanian, a little Gypsy and a little Hungarian", releasing its immense energy in wild party scenes – especially the frightening masked ball scene – where glasses are thrown to the ground and bottles smashed over people’s heads.
The film’s script, which is not afraid to take liberties with strict conventions, is one of pleasure and emotion rather than mechanical precision, featuring an exorcism, a bear, a woman giving birth and various traditional musical instruments that accompany the audience from start to finish (the original score is by Tony Gatlif and Delphine Mantoulet). The camera is no different, with these distressed souls filmed with close-ups and from behind using highly elegant lighting by DoP Céline Bozon.
Produced by Princes Films, the director’s own company, on a €3.5m budget that includes an advance on receipts of €300,000 from the CNC and a pre-sales agreement from Canal + and TPS, Transylvania will be distributed in France by Pyramide, who is also handling international sales.
(Translated from French)
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