Narrative Trends in Recent Latvian Fiction Film

By Zane Balčus

© Zane Balcus, 2012

Introduction
Narrative is generally accepted as possessing two components: the story presented and the process of its telling, or narration, often referred to as narrative discourse. To refer to the components of narrative, Vladimir Propp’s definitions of fabula and sujet have been extended to three categories, which are referred to with different terms by different scholars. I will further employ the following definitions as used by Mieke Bal: narrative text‚ story and fabula. By narrative text Bal means “a text in which an agent or subject conveys to an addressee a story in a particular medium,” which can be language, images, sounds, or other. A story is the content of this text, while the fabula is “a series of logically and chronologically related events that are caused or experienced by actors” (Bal 2009: 5). The term events is used as a change from one state to another, but actors are agents that perform actions (Bal 2009: 6). I prefer to use the word character instead of actor to avoid confusion. What is said in the text can be classified as narrative, descriptive, or argumentative and we have to bear in mind how it is narrated, presenting events in a particular duration and space that is fundamental to narrative discourse. The survey of narrative trends in recent Latvian fiction film includes films from 2000 until 2011, and I will look at them from the standpoint of content and narrative discourse and how this relates to Gilles Deleuze’s notion of movement-image and time-image.

What stories are being told?
Since the middle of the 1980s, the tightly controlled Soviet production system has loosened up, giving greater freedom to filmmakers to create films with more a critical stance on contemporary reality. However, it required a longer period of time for a more significant shift to happen. This is closely tied to the change of generations among filmmakers. Just very few of those who made films in Soviet Latvia managed to adapt to the new system (or, more precisely, the lack of it). Thus the 1990s and 2000s have witnessed the emergence of a new generation of filmmakers with a more personal approach to filmmaking and the stories they tell. Two extremely opposite ends are represented in the films of the period covered in this article. Big budget productions and mass audience films stand at one end, and art-house films at the other: the former are aimed at large audiences, the latter concentrate on the filmmaker’s artistic expression. Most of the films are based on original scripts, but a few are literary adaptations.

dangerous summerChoosing historical subjects, filmmakers look at historical events from the first half of the 20th century: the declaration of the independent Republic of Latvia in 1918 (The Only Photograph / Vienīgā fotogrāfija, 2008, Brigita Eglīte); the fight for maintaining independence just after 1918 (Defenders of Riga / Rīgas sargi, 2007, Aigars Grauba); the Soviet military crossing the border in 1940 (Dangerous Summer / Baiga vasara, 2000, Aigars Grauba); the formation of a special Latvian military unit during World War II (Threesome Dance / Dancis pa trim, 2011, Arvīds Krievs). Only one film tells about the Soviet era, and not from a historical perspective, but offering a hyperbolized absurdist viewpoint (The Last Soviet Movie / Pēdējā padomju filma, 2003, Alexander Hahn).

defenders of rigaDangerous Summer and Defenders of Riga were aimed at mass audiences, striving to create a local example of mainstream cinema (similarly like Names in Marble / Nimed marmortahvlil, 2002, Elmo Nüganen) was for Estonians. The latter film was made with a considerable budget, which is reflected in the special effects, computer generated images (like the panoramic view on burning Riga across the river Daugava, which divides the city in two parts). The creation of a spectacle has been one of the main ambitions of the filmmakers, as well as the patriotic look at our past. The time after Latvian independence in 1918 was a complicated moment in the history of Latvia with Russian, German, Latvian sides involved, and it presents the spectator with a considerable level of difficulty to follow the events. Even for Latvians it can be puzzling, and more so for foreign audiences, especially as there is insufficient non-diegetic information during the unfolding fabula. Not all of the historical events have been represented accurately and this is one of the reasons why historians distrust historical films. We live in a post-literate age, where books cannot compete in popularity with films, as noted by historian Robert A. Rosenstone. Thus it is easy to fictionalize, trivialize, romanticize events, people and movements of history (Rosenstone 2000: 50). Rosenstone proposes three broad categories for representing history in films: history as drama, history as document, and as experiment, the most common of which is history as drama (Rosenstone 2000: 52). A historical film on any period represents the ideas and feelings of the filmmakers at the time of the film’s making. Thus Defenders of Riga can be seen as a case study for the current state of Latvia, where from a filmmakers’ (director Aigars Grauba and producer Andrejs Ēķis) standpoint there is a longing for heroism and trust in the individual. It is a romantic view towards the past, when the courage of individuals could change the course of history. Such a stance complies precisely with one of the points raised by Rosenstone: how mainstream cinema creates its world: “The mainstream film tells history as a story, a tale with a beginning, middle, and an end. A tale that leaves you with a moral message and (usually) a feeling of uplift” (Rosenstone 2000: 55).

Other films with historical subjects does not strive for mainstream audiences, therefore their scope is not as grand. A recent film on a historical subject is Threesome Dance by Arvīds Krievs. Based on a novel, it is a love story set during WWII (1944-45) in Western Latvia, where Latvian soldiers form a special unit to fight for regaining the freedom of the country. The love triangle presents a young woman torn between two men—a German officer and a Latvian soldier. Both films—Defenders of Riga and Threesome Dance—disclose complicated topics and in the same time tell stories of individuals. They fail to present a clear-cut and concise understanding of historical events.

A more humanistic than heroic view on the war time is represented in the film The Mystery of the Old Parish House (Vecās pagastmājas mistērija, 2000, Jānis Streičs). Even half a century after the war, one of the film’s characters cannot relieve himself from the sense of guilt for killing a German during the war. Despite the long years that have elapsed, the sense of guilt causes hallucinations and drives him almost insane. This is much more personal approach to the issues of history, questioning the motives of individuals in particular circumstances and exposing the moral dilemmas. 

How sensitive the filmmakers are in disclosing contemporary reality? Most of the stories here are set in the present, but just a few include references to important topics of the time. Children’s films have responded most sensitively to the social and economic situation of the time. Waterbomb for the Fat Tomcat (Ūdensbumba resnajam runcim, 2004, Varis Brasla)illustrates the problem of disjointed families, when parents leave their children behind to go and work in another city or even another country. In Waterbomb two little girls from a small town find themselves in the care of a nanny while their mother goes to work in the capital, as there are no jobs in their town; their father lives in London where he works at a construction site. These details reveal the realities of the time. Some years later, with the credit crunch, the film Little Robbers (Mazie laupītāji, 2009, Armands Zvirbulis) uses as one of the plot lines a situation when an urban family with two small kids cannot pay their mortgage and is forced to leave their city apartment and move in with the grandparents in the countryside. The children think that they can now take things into their own hands and steal the money from the bank, enabling the parents to get their home back.

Migrant workers also feature prominently in cinema, as in the film Lost (Nevajadzīgie ļaudis, 2008, Māris Martinsons), where a woman goes to work to Ireland. The character Cracker in People Out There (Cilvēki tur, 2011, Aiks Karapetjans) gets no further than talking about going to work in London. Another film whose characters are leaving their homes is Monotony (Monotonija, 2007, Juris Poškus), where the urban environment and even work in Ireland seems attractive to several protagonists of the film.

A film about leaving the country, but this time for the sake of education, is Amateur (Amatieris, 2008, Jānis Nords). Studying abroad has become popular for many young people in the country, since Latvia is a member of EU and tuition fees do not differ much in Latvia or abroad; moreover, certain study programs are not available. Amateur also deals with another actual topic that has grown in popularity in the last decade: the drug problem. Here the main character Victor is selling marijuana to earn sufficient funds to follow his girlfriend to Amsterdam, where she will go to study.

monotonyMonotony and the earlier film A Handful of Bullets (Sauja ložu, 2002, Una Celma) give an interesting view on the dichotomy between rural and urban environment. The subject is a topical issue in Latvia, as more and more young people leave the countryside and move to the cities, mainly Riga (and now, as mentioned above, also abroad). So far, the last harmonious picture of family life in a rural area has been in The Child of Man (Cilvēka bērns, 1991),made by Jānis Streičs, who has been a significant auteur in disclosing Latvian mentalities onscreen. The patriarchal family of 1930s in the Eastern part of Latvia is depicted through the eyes of a small boy. There is no conflict between rural and urban space, but the rural environment as a resort and place to return to can be found in the film A Handful of Bullets. After troubled time in the city Ivars (Jānis Mūrnieks) returns to his mother’s house in a small town. The city has been an initiation for him: a girl, drugs, theft, poverty. Now Ivars takes shelter in the countryside. In the closing scenes he manages to stop his younger sister from following in his footsteps and going to the city. Even if the decision of leaving the city for good does not come just from Ivars’ free will, the countryside is a safer and more stable place to live in. More dubious about this issue are characters in Monotony. The departure point of the fabula of A Handful of Bullets is already the city, where Ivars has moved in with his uncle, but the events in Monotony start in the countryside from where the characters want to escape. They are tired of the dullness of rural life and look at the city as a place of hope, where things happen in more unexpected ways and cause greater excitement. The limits of the city are not enough for them, and some also look to foreign countries, Ireland in particular. A typical approach to the representation of urban versus rural space has been that the rural environment is safer, with no temptations, as opposed to the urban space. A Handful of Bullets and Monotony support this view.

Crossing unmarked borders within the city is reflected powerfully in the film People Out There, which is the first fiction film of director Aiks Karapetjans. It is so far the only film that tells about the Russian-speaking community living in apartment blocks in the suburbs of Riga. It is also the only example where all the characters living in Latvia are Russian-speaking, and this is the intention of the director and not the result of dubbing (as was the practice in Soviet Latvian cinema). The film’s main character Yan (Ilya Scherbakov) is not strong-willed enough to resist the bad company of friends. There is a craving inside him to change and get out of the doomed surroundings, but he is not strong enough to do so. Together with his friends, Yan steals things from flats and cars, he steals cars and he fights, even using a gun just to get some money to spend on drinks or drugs. As opposed to multi-storey, Soviet time apartment buildings where Yan and his friends live and hang out, we are presented with new luxury housing projects, which were built in Riga during the economic boom in the second half of the 2000s. The film includes many aerial shots with views on suburban houses. They look all the same, nevertheless representing the geometrical planning of Soviet architecture and partly still reflecting the dream home status they once embodied, as there was a lack of housing in Riga during the Soviet period, and getting a new apartment in the suburbs was an aspiration for many. Now these suburbs have turned into a grim place, which seems dangerous to inhabit.

leaving by the wayThe urban existentialism of People Out There has a counterpart in rural existential themes in the films by  Viesturs Kairišs: Leaving by the Way (pa ceļam aizejot, 2001) and The Dark Deer (Tumšie brieži, 2006), where rural scenery serves as a backdrop for personal dramas. The inner struggle between faithfulness to her dead husband, duty towards the family, or passion makes the central storyline of Leaving by the Way. However, The Dark Deer mixes past rivalry among two friends for the attention and love of one woman with their present levels. What unites People Out There with the other two films is the particular visual attentiveness towards the representation of an environment that carries a symbolic meaning and reflects human relationships.

you're sexy when sadThese films do not offer a clear way out of the situation for the characters. A safe place to escape from society can be found in the film You’re Sexy when You’re Sad (Man patīk, ka meitene skumst, 2005, Arvīds Krievs): that place is a mental hospital. The director Arvīds Krievs continues the themes of his previous works, exploring the complexes of the human psyche. The film begins and ends in the mental hospital, where two of the film’s characters are inmates. Homosexuality, obsession with death and blood, the autopsy of a skull, taking photographs of a dead man at his funeral (the film’s main character is a photographer) signals, as described by Inga Pērkone: “quite intrusive didactics that all of society is sick; not those who we consider to be maniacs, but the very norms of society are perverse” (Pērkone 2007: 4). The film includes some of the most gruesome images of the period. It denies meaning, the need for being a member of society, and the rules of normalcy.

rudolf's goldA diametrically opposed stance is offered in the film Rudolf’s Gold (Rūdolfa mantojums, 2010) by Jānis Steičs. Rudolf’s Gold is a rare example of a film with a distinct main character and one of the few films to draw on Latvian literature, namely the stories of Rūdolfs Blaumanis. Films and novels or other literary sources made into films should not be assessed by their faithfulness to the source, as Bal suggests: “Rather, taking novel and film as equally embedded in the culture in which they function, the comparison can help to articulate what they each, through their own narratological make-up, have to say to their audiences. Their relationship is an intertextual as well as an interdiscursive one” (Bal 2009: 170). Drawing inspiration from several of Blaumanis’ stories, the film tries to reconstruct the flair of the time— the early 20th century, when some Latvian people could manage through hard work to establish their own farms and get independence from the landlords. The film’s main character Rudolph (Romualds Ancāns) is such a person, and his character is designed to demonstrate the self-awareness of the nation and the increase of self-esteem. In Rudolf’s Gold, Dangerous Summer and Defenders of Riga the efforts to create a new national mythology can be traced, as if returning to the stance of 1920s regarding the use of cinema as a means of transmitting human and patriotic values and unifying the nation.

Narrative discourse
The period of Soviet Latvian film production can be described as classical both from the point of view of production system and narrative discourse. The movement-image (l’image-mouvement) characterized pre-war classical cinema, which in post-war years gradually turned into the time-image (l’image-temps) in Deleuze’s terms. Deleuze attributes the notion of the time-image to European modernist cinema that began with Italian neorealism. A similar shift can be seen in Latvian cinema, and since the second half of the 1980s we can talk about a crisis of the movement-image. Objects and settings have an autonomous reality, which is material and gives them their own importance. It is also essential that not just the viewers, but protagonists have to see and hear in order for action (events) or passion to be born. The situation does not extend into action directly, but is invested by the senses from optical and sound situations. (Deleuze 2005a: 4) This is reflected in Latvian films in character modalities, either single or multiple, and narrative structures. 

At the beginning of 2000 films with complicated narrative structures appear, as opposed to the linear narratives of the previous decades. Streičs’s The Mystery of the Old Parish House presents a film within a film and offers several thematic layers: the reflection about the filmmaking process, capitalism in contemporary society (the one who pays is the one who dictates the rules) and the haunting sense of historical guilt. The film is constructed in three parts, blending events that happen in the film The Mystery and the film, which is being made onscreen. The film Hide and Seek (Paslēpes, 2001, Jānis Putniņš)is also a story with a complicated narrative structure. The story evolves in several layers of the main character’s consciousness. A popular approach of modernist cinema has been applied, where the police is investigating a crime; in the course of investigation events do not get disclosed or solved, but are complicated further. In the story about a woman who is found murdered, the police suspect her husband, whose personality is divided. In Chatman’s observation “[t]he contemplation of character is the predominant pleasure in modern art narrative. It depends on the convention of the uniqueness of the individual, but that is a convention no less than the older insistence on the predominance of action” (Chatman 1978: 113).

The majority of the films employ a structure of telling the story in linear time; only a few examples show scenes with imaginary events and/or flashbacks. Leaving by the Way combines events from past, present and an imaginary domain. The character who is linked closest with the imaginary events is the little boy Dauka, who pines for his missing father. Grown-ups refrain from telling the truth to the boy: that his father has drowned in the sea. He also experiences flamboyant flashbacks, or they could be imagined scenes, with all the family together again at a picnic on a bright sunny day. Using many deviations from the film’s present time, the boy’s thoughts and feelings are reflected much more intensely than they would have been using just linear time.    

good handsTzvetan Todorov distinguishes two broad categories of narratives: plot-centered or a-psychological; and character-centered or psychological. As for psychological narratives, actions are “expressions” or even “symptoms” of personality and hence they are “transitive;” but a-psychological narratives exist in their own right, as independent sources of pleasure and are “intransitive” (Todorov 1977: 66; 68-70). The last decade of Latvian cinema has seen only a few examples of films telling stories with distinguished main characters (like Good Hands (Labās rokas, 2001, Peeter Simm), Amateur, Rudolf’s Gold, People Out There); mostly the focus has been on a group of characters. This is a trait found not just in Latvian cinema. The last two decades have seen the rise of films with a so-called “contiguous approach,” as noted by Peter Verstraten. They “offer a mosaic of widely diverging characters. What connects the characters is often little more than that they (temporarily) reside in the same place, which enables them to cross paths for a short time. These ensemble films are based on a narrative structure that also differs from classic narration in that coincidences now take precedence over causal relations: something might happen out of the blue, and events do not require a thorough introduction” (Verstraten 2009: 5). This corresponds to Deleuze’s observation about the crisis of classical cinema (movement-image), which emerged in the post-war years: “In the first place, the image no longer refers to a situation which is globalizing or synthetic, but rather to one which is dispersive. The characters are multiple, with weak interferences and become principal or revert to being secondary. It is nevertheless not a series of sketches, a succession of short stories, since they are all caught in the same reality which disperses them” (Deleuze 2005: 211).

Films like Never, Never, Ever! (Negribu, negribu, negribu!..., 2001, Lauris Gundars) and Defenders of Riga, Loss, Hunt (Medības, 2009, Andis Mizišs), Return of Sergeant Lapins (Seržanta Lapiņa atgriešanās, 2010, Gatis Šmits) and others show multiple characters, who share the same fabula space and are connected in various degrees. The historical epic Defenders of Riga has at the story’s center a group of friends who experience the years of fighting, an experience that brings with it personal dramas and presents historical figures to illustrate the story. More emphasized is the couple of Jānis (Jānis Reinis) and Elza (Elita Kļaviņa), whose engagement is about to be announced in the church at the opening of the film when the war breaks out. Seemingly a part of the film’s events is shown through their perspective, when Elza’s off-screen voice reads letters from Jānis that she received from the front. However, the focus shifts from the couple to display episodes of fighting and other characters. The unifying element of the characters in the film’s story is the particular historical situation.

midsummer madnessTelling a story about a group of people who are closely interrelated is not frequently used for character portrayal. Mainly these are people whose paths cross at some point, either as a first encounter or repeatedly. The film Midsummer Madness (Jāņu nakts, 2007, Alexander Hahn) presents a concrete timeline—Summer Solstice, which is one of the main festivities in Latvia. Several foreigners (played by popular European actors, among them Maria de Medeiros, Dominique Pinon, and Tobias Moretti) arrive in Latvia at this particular time without knowing what day it is. The fabula is created by intercutting several stories with a comical approach to certain stereotypes about nationalities and socioeconomic events, or just character types.

return of sergeantIn the film Hunt all the characters crisscross at a bar near the railroad. This place is just a space allowing to connect various characters, combinations of characters, situations, events or memories triggered that develop the fabula. Separate character stories are disclosed, but they never become entities, just the elements of a schematic construction of the fabula, whose focal point is place: the bar. Similarly, a concrete place as a point of departure for the fabula can be found in the film The Return of Sergeant Lapins. A rented apartment where Lapins (Andris Keišs) stops after leaving the rehabilitation centre becomes the place where all the main characters eventually meet. Even though there is a single character referred to in the film’s title, he is just one of the larger groupings of people that form the film’s story. Avoiding concrete references, we can presume that Lapins has served in Afghanistan, and he has to find his place in society again. The film presents a cluster of characters with different social status, aspirations, private problems. Lapins becomes a mediator or discharger for complications in the lives of the other protagonists. The planning of the apartment accords to Lapins’ unstable mental state, offering greater freedom to filmmakers to use a place with more than one character. It helps building up comic situations between characters when they encounter each other. Here a place becomes a space, from a topological location where events happen to a space with a special look and feel (Bal 2009: 178). Despite a similarly schematic approach to space as in Hunt, this film centers on the characters, while space serves as a focal point in which tragicomic situations are bound to happen. Thus it avoids mechanical repetitiveness.

pythonThe multiplicity of characters nevertheless allows certain films to be psychological, others to be a-psychological or at least inclined to fall in either of categories. The Return of Sergeant Lapins draws more towards psychological film, but Hunt is a-psychological; in Sergeant Lapins events are character expressions, but in Hunt and some other films they exist in their own right. Distinctly a-psychological are director Laila Pakalniņas’ films The Python (Pitons, 2003) and The Hostage (Ķīlnieks, 2006). Both films already in their titles include the starting point of the fabula. A python escapes from its owner at a school, where it has been taken to a photo session with the pupils. In the second film a boy is kept hostage in a plane grounded at Riga Airport. The characters are going about their own routines, which in most cases have no direct relation to the core events of the film. They are there to participate in a web of parallel events. Character-bound focalization here shifts from one person to another, and we are shown the same facts from various standpoints. This technique, as Bal notes, “can result in neutrality towards all the characters” (Bal 2009: 151-152). It has been the intention of the director to shift the attention from concrete characters to an overall picture of the events. Slow camera movements and long takes make this style equal with description in literature, where description is in the same time narrative’s “other” and an integral part of it (Bal 2009: 39). Pakalniņa’s previous film The Shoe (Kurpe, 1998) made in late 1990s employed similar technique and achieved an even more delicate and subtle result. 

vogelfreiThe subject of focalization (the focalizer) is the point from which elements are viewed, and it can lie within or outside a character. When a focalizer coincides with the character, the character has an advantage over others. Thus the events will be perceived from the vision of this character (Bal 2009: 149-150). When the vision is not connected to any character, like in above mentioned films by Laila Pakalniņa, neutrality occurs. Focalizers as characters are not frequent in this decade: Amateur, Rudolf’s Gold, as well as People Out There. We could also consider the film Vogelfrei (2007, Jānis Kalējs, Gatis Šmits, Jānis Putniņš, Anna Viduleja), which tells a story about one person—Teodors, depicting a particular situation in his life in four different periods: childhood, teenage years, adulthood and older age. The chosen moments carry an important personal value for him; especially sensitive is the part of Teodors as a teenager. Character-bound focalizers are also in the film Good Hands,whose central characters are the pickpocket Margita and a little boy, who comes with her to Estonia. An example of a film whose story has a central character, but the fabula events allow neutrality is Gulf Stream under the Iceberg (Golfa straume zem ledus kalna, 2011, Jevgēņijs Paškēvičs). The story takes place in three different geographical locations and time periods—17th-century Eastern Europe, 19th-century Russian Empire, and 1990’s Riga—and one character links the three parts. The immortal Lilith, Adam’s first wife, triggers a destructive passion in the men she meets. In the fibula, the events have more significance than the characters involved, and an a-psychological approach is adopted.

hostageBal divides characters (“actors”in her definition): those who has to be taken into consideration and those who can be left out. This is done on the basis of their function: if they have a function in the fabula events, they need to be considered (Bal 2009: 201). An off-screen character with a functional role in the fabula is the narrator in Rudolf’s Gold. The voice is that of the film’s director Jānis Streičs. The commentary compliments the events and at the same time inhibits a full-fledged development of the characters onscreen, asserting the correct reading of character’s actions and motives. Another film with an onscreen narrator is Threesome Dance, which is told from the contemporary perspective and the events shown might not be real, but imaginary. They can be read as projected through the narrator’s imagination. Threesome Dance is constructed as a personal journey from present to past, as the main character tries to find out about his ancestors.

Midsummer Madness elevates the role of the narrator to one of the characters: the taxi driver Oskars (played by Gundars Āboliņš) establishes the events at the beginning of the film, giving information about himself, his car and the special day for Latvia. Throughout the film, with several parallel stories, he is not a main character. Nevertheless, in terms of his story’s content he occupies a more significant place in the fabula than other characters, because of the second character involved in his story: Curt (Orlando Wells), Oskar’s passenger who has just arrived at Riga Airport and whom Oskars has to take to a certain destination. Curt’s presence in Latvia has a personal motive and also a goal, thus allowing greater identification with him. Most other characters also have some kind of goal or destination, but reaching it has less significance than in Curt’s story. An even more manifested role of a narrator can be found in the film Monsieur Taurins (2011), directed by Alexander Hahn, casting Gundars Āboliņš from Midsummer Madness. Tauriņš has gone to France and is being paid to find a property for a buyer in Latvia. He travels around the south of France, encountering different people on his way, and filming what he sees as well as himself. The camcorder is used as a medium through which he addresses the spectator and transmits the events.

Film as a visual media offers narration through images. Leaving by the Way and The Dark Deer especially work as a visual experience. In both films nature and landscape are as important as characters, creating a dramatic setting for the fabula events. Landscape serves as a continuation of the emotional state of characters, but not only: their living in those surroundings is important. As Michael Toolan has noted, the “relation between setting on the one hand, and character and events on the other, may be causal or analogical: features of the setting may be (in part at least) either cause or effect of how characters are and behave; or, more by way of reinforcement and symbolic congruence, a setting may be like a character or characters in some respect” (Toolan 2001: 92). The setting has been chosen to support and underline psychological traits of the characters. In Leaving by the Way Ilga (Elita Kļaviņa) and Viktors (Ēriks Vilsons) secretly meet at a forest surveillance tower during the night to indulge in their passionate love affair. They are high above the ground, with an endless, surrounding landscape below them, as if they have become invisible for those living on the ground. Another character, Ruta (Guna Zariņa), is picking different herbs that obtain special powers when Ruta walks naked among horses in the field during the night. Long shots endow these images with scope and majesty. In The Dark Deer one of the main characters, Ria (Kristīne Krūze) is particularly attached to the deer, which symbolizes her vulnerability in the cruel real world, where deer are just money-making objects. People Out There and Amateur also have a lot of landscape shots, but here it is the urban landscape and the  meaning of these shots is not to support traits of characters. 

Diverse fabula events, deliberately weak links between characters, the travel form, consciousness of clichés and the deprecation of the plot form a new image (Deleuze 2005: 214). The emergence and existence of movement-image and time-image depend on particular circumstances of the concrete time period, but they can also exist side by side, as can be seen in classically constructed films at one end and modernist art films on the other. However, neither of those has a dominant position in recent Latvian cinema and the definition of time-image has not yet been found.  


Works Cited

Bal, M. (2009), Narratology: Introduction to the Theory of Narrative, Toronto, Buffalo and London: Unviersity of Toronto Press

Chatman, S. (1978), Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film, New York: Cornell University Press

Deleuze, G. (2005), Cinema 1: The Movement-Image, London: Continuum

Deleuze, G. (2005a), Cinema 2: The Time-Image, London: Continuum

Pērkone, I. (2007), “Vajadzīgs diriģents: Pārejas laika aktierkino ideoloģiskais diskurss (1990-2005),” Kultūras Forums 19-26 January 2007, pp. 4-5

Rosenstone, R. A. (2000), “The Historical Film: Looking at the Past in a Postliterate Age,” in Landy, M. (ed.), The Historical Film: History and Memory in Media, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, pp. 50-66

Todorov, T. (1977), The Poetics of Prose, New York: Cornell University Press

Toolan, M. (2001), Narrative: A Critical Linguistic Introduction, London and New York: Routledge

Verstraten, P. (2009), Film Narratology, Toronto, Buffalo and London: Unviersity of Toronto Press

 

Updated: 09 Jun 12