As a group of men and children make their way through a caravan site towards a concreted area two of them are given very simple rules by Hughie Doherty; no kicking, no biting and whoever breaks the rules loses. The pair then take a step back, raise their fists and tentatively come out fighting. This is how gypsies settle an argument.
Gypsy Blood features the Doherty's and the Butcher's, both have a long and proud traveller history. They care about their children and wives just as much as their honour. Disagreements are settled with the fist in bare knuckle fights. Leo Maguire's documentary, originally aired on Channel Four, focuses on the lives of these two families in all its harsh, bloody glory.
A tale as much about fatherly love as it is about violence the film highlights the differences and similarities in how the next generation are being raised. An education is equally as important as the ability to give and take a punch for the growing lads.
The film that took two years to make gives an intimate portrait of fathers and sons and what it takes to be a man within their community, featuring chicken fights, children sparring and the affects a day of drinking can have on a group predisposed to talking with their fists. For these kids going out to kill an animal for their supper is just as mundane as a trip to the supermarket is for a suburban child.
Maguire’s unflinching film is never judgemental when it comes to the actions of both dads leaving it down to the viewer to judge the sometimes heavy handed expletive filled treatment that still comes from a loving place. Swiftly mixing savage beatings with tender family moments this is at times funny, occasionally shocking in places nearly unwatchable but is always a gripping and interesting viewing experience.
The DVD features a brief set of deleted scenes that include an additional few moments of fighting and family moments.
In conclusion, a worth while watch for those who think the gypsy way of live is just about big weddings. Gypsy Blood is out on DVD on January 7th 2012.