Last night I went to see the film Seperado, a charming searching film seen through the eyes of Welsh pop music legend Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals while on both tour and journey to find his distant uncle and famous over night Patagonian poncho wearing guitarist Rene Griffiths.
In 1880, following a controversial horse race that led to an unresolved death Gruff Rhys's family split as Daffyd Jones took his young family to join a burgeouning Welsh community in Patagonia. There was to be no contact between the families for almost a century until 1974 when Rene Griffiths arrived in Wales with his latin infused Welsh love songs and became an overnight sensation. He traces the footsteps of the Welsh colonists who fled their homeland in the 19th Century for Argentina, and it is truly a fascinating glimpse of Welsh history.
Director Dylan Goch follows Gruff on a tour that takes in theatres, nightclubs and desert teahouses of , Brazil and the Argentinian Andes as he discovers what became of his family, the Welsh diaspora and its musical legacy. He takes us on a kind of psychedelic road trip and what has been created is really quite magical, a portrayal of a beautiful and at times harsh isolated land, offering glimpses of a parallel universe. Building many bridges and links discovering many more sundry musical talents along the way.
It managed to hold my attention and most of the audience whilst not sidestepping the issues of colonisation and the beast of globalisation and its ravages. It deals successfully in my mind why a number of Welsh speakers went to Patagonia in search of a new life, in order to preserve their way of life, their language and the many conflicts that arise when people look for a new paradise and heartland.
It was of particular interesting to me to see the long lasting influence of intermarrying with the indiginous population. Their Welsh seemed to me to be clearer than our modern Welsh despite being handed down, and perhaps paradise was not truly found but they have managed to preserve their language and culture.
A must see whether a fan of Gruff Rhys's music or not, very enthralling in a hip, arty ,ramshackle way. Whimsical with a magnificent broad sweep.