11 user 8 critic

Mondo (1995)

Mondo is a homeless young boy, with a big smile, who wanders around Nice looking for food and a place to sleep.


Tony Gatlif


Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio (novel) (as Jean-Marie G. Le Clezio), Tony Gatlif
1 win. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ovidiu Balan Ovidiu Balan ... Mondo
Philippe Petit ... The Magician
Pierrette Fesch Pierrette Fesch ... Thi Chin
Jerry Smith Jerry Smith ... Dadi
Schahla Aalam Schahla Aalam ... The Magician's Friend
Maurice Maurin Maurice Maurin ... Giordan the fisherman
Catherine Brun Catherine Brun ... Church Soloist (Elevator Woman)
Ange Gobbi Ange Gobbi ... The Postman
Jean Ferrier Jean Ferrier ... The Chief of Police
Marcel Lemuet Marcel Lemuet ... The Birdman
Nadia Cutaia Nadia Cutaia ... The Baker Woman
Pierre Klouman Pierre Klouman ... The Popcorn Man
Georges Carlo Georges Carlo ... Family at the Supermarket
Sylvie Fadeuilh Sylvie Fadeuilh ... Family at the Supermarket
Benjamin Massi Benjamin Massi ... Family at the Supermarket


A fable unfolds. One summer day, a boy of about ten appears on the streets of Nice - no family, no possessions, no schooling, but with a brilliant smile. Mondo's most at home in gardens, fields, and at the seashore. The bustle of the city can seem to overwhelm him. He has good survival instincts, running from police and from threatening adults, and he is looking for a family. Over time, people come to know him - he helps out a street magician, befriends an old man who keeps doves in his suitcase, and finds a mother, herself an outsider. That smile is always at hand. Yet, no vagabond child sits well with the authorities. Can Nice keep this treasure of the spirit? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Parents Guide:

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Official Sites:

Shadow Distribution





Release Date:

30 May 1997 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Menton, Alpes-Maritimes, France See more »

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User Reviews

A celebration of the senses
25 September 2016 | by KobusAdAstraSee all my reviews

This little-known film turned out to be a gem.

Mondo is a young vagrant boy living in Nice. He is free-spirited, joyful and does what he wants, with nobody telling him what to do. He would spend time walking the streets of Nice, go for a swim in the sea or join a lonely fisherman on the pier. Mondo is mostly met with a lot of goodwill. He would get cuts of freshly baked bread from the kind lady at the bakery, or fresh fruit from the open-air market. Mondo has many friends; we see him joining a beggar who has a suitcase with two beloved white doves, and meeting a busker whose effort he assists by passing his money collecting plate around. Then there is the childless Vietnamese lady who takes Mondo in and cares for him when he falls sick.

The antagonists in the story are 'welfare' officials who are out to capture Mondo and take away his freedom. In a disturbing allegory we witness how other officials catch stray dogs to take to the pound. Would Mondo escape the officials and retain his freedom?

Mondo seems mythical; he may not even be real. The film subtly compares the cost of conformity with that of freedom and individuality.

This film superficially may seem to be thin on the plot, but believe me, it is not a simple as it seems. Watch it carefully; it has a lot to offer below the surface.

This film speaks to the senses. The sound of a knife cutting through a crusty loaf of bread, the soothing splash of swells lapping against the side of a boat. Excellent cinematography accentuates the visual. A few memorable scenes: Rainwater collecting on a water-lily leaf; a wet but seemingly happy Mondo sheltering from the rain whilst a bedraggled and soaked dog in the next scene looks everything but happy; an insect moving to the sheltered side of a leaf as the rain continues. A small boat pulling against its mooring in the ebb of the tide. And then there is the surreal scene of oranges, with messages written all over them, washing up onto the beach. The attention to detail is remarkable. The soundtrack is excellent too.

'Mondo' reminds me of the importance of appreciating the world around us for what it is, uncluttered by preconceptions or indifference.

The young actor who plays Mondo, Ovidiu Balan, does so with distinction. The performances by the other actors (Philippe Petit, Schahia Aalam, Pierette Fesch, Jerry Smith and Maurice Maurin) are excellent too. The director, Tony Gatlif must be commended for producing this rewarding and splendid meditative work of art.

I score 'Mondo' a well-deserved 9/10.

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