During WWII a youth deserts his country’s army after a combat experience, but not before wounding his commanding officer with a knife in order to escape.
Genre: Drama, Romance, War
Directed By: Bob Hoskins
Written By: Bob Hoskins, Nicole De Wilde
Runtime: 103 minutes
Zoe Nathenson as Jessie
Zoe Wanamaker as Elle
Bob Hoskins as Darky
Ian McNeice as The Farmer
Gawn Granger as The Officer
Jim Carter as The Soldier
The film centres around the character of Tom, a young army recruit in an unnamed time and country (presumably World War II-era Eastern Europe) who deserts after an artillery barrage kills his sergeant, in the process blinding a sadistic officer who tries to stop him.
He is shell-shocked into muteness and takes refuge with a traveling gypsy caravan, led by Darky (Hoskins). Among the principal members of the clan are Darky’s mentally disabled son, Simon, Simon’s mother Elle (Wanamaker) who harbors a grudge against Darky, and Darky’s only daughter, Jessie (Nathenson), who forms a romantic bond with Tom, eventually becoming pregnant by him.
In order to avoid arrest and execution by the army, Tom disguises himself as a “rawney”, described in the film as a kind of “magic” madwoman, who (in the gypsy culture) is able to see the future and can control animals.
Frightened at first, Darky befriends the “rawney”, thinking him or her to be good luck, but soon Darky is revealed to be a flawed leader, unable to protect his clan from war, and beset by family turmoil which is exacerbated by Tom’s presence.
Throughout the film, the army and the partially blinded officer is a menace, threatening the Gypsies’ way of life and those who befriend them.
In a moving finale, the army corners the gypsy clan, who manage to hold them off with meager rifles and pistols long enough to enable the young members of the clan, including Tom and Jessie, to escape, at the cost of their own lives.
This is how the users and critics on the IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes websites voted.
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