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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

13 January 2010 | by cmmescalonaSee all my reviews

I can't review Tony Gatlif's films without some bias. I was absolutely blown away by Swing. Mondo is, actually, a different world. Of hues, colours, dreams and a very powerful story. Maybe one with which I feel deeply related to.

Mondo could be an angel fallen form heaven. His relationship with Nature and all of its signs and sounds is as if he's part of a different world than any populous city. There's no way to know where he comes from. He could be a Gypsy, but he's not. He could be a homeless boy. But, alas, he's not. The story told by Gatlif here is one of redemption from this world. We pretty easily outgrow any capacity left in us to wonder, to imagine, to admire the world as it is. We, as denizens of any big and dehumanised society, become simple followers of a fate that is not devised by our own means, it is a fact of life. A mere realisation that we are in a merry-go-round that eventually will stop. In the meanwhile, we'd just cling on to it and, one day, let go.

Immersed in a world of haste and worries where a simple smile could move our lives into a deep understanding of ourselves, we choose not to. We choose to live it as it comes, no questions asked. And emptiness fill our souls, our hearts, our feelings, that are reduced to shyness, to duress or insensibility.

Mondo creates joy around him, because of his smile, his ways, his angelic power to touch souls and make them see the light. Mondo is not human. He even may not be real at all. But Mondo is here to remind us of the many missing things that make our lives, sometimes, empty, inconsistent and superficial.

Tony Gatlif is a master working with children. His Gypsy friends and actors are truthful to his otherworldliness. Mondo is the boy we all need to be reminded that growing up doesn't mean being stupid. And he's the soul to many. He reaches within and without whoever he touches with his smile.

Nice is portrayed as the soul-splitting cacophony of modern life, where Mondo always finds a way to connect with what matters for the soul. His life, a metaphor of a stray dog's, is transformed many times in front of our eyes in the life of a dog.

The execution of this film is flawless. The music is, as it always is with Gatlif's films, superb. Acting is magnificent, and Mondo is one of those roles played by non-actors that will be remembered for a long time.

By the way: someone pointed out that the nude scene of Mondo is out of place. If you watch the film and feel uncomfortable by this, you may not be normal: that is as significant as the other tens of clues Gatlif gives us to understand what he's trying to convey with the story.

A ten out of ten. Hey!, and don't miss Swing, another beautiful story.

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