Snow White counts up to a million. Laila Pakalniņa’s feature film Review in the Mirror / Day

Movies In the mirror screening in Latvia was scheduled for November 5, but in these uncertain times, it is necessary to avoid making specific announcements about when the film will come to the attention of the general public in cinemas, as plans may change constantly, pulsating with cyclical changes in epidemiological constraints. , which must be kept in mind to watch when it will be available on the big screen in cinemas, because Laila Pakalniņa ‘s films are definitely among those whose small screen does not allow to fully express their power.

Complementing Grimmus

Let me remind you that the movie In the mirror, in which the director Laila Pakalniņa has once again agreed in perfect cooperation with the cameraman Gints Bērziņš, created as a successive chain of selfies of all the characters and actors of the film, creating an unexpected challenge for the viewer. Of course, selfie as a visual technique is already quite traditional, but a pronounced short format genre, so the film authors’ idea to keep the whole feature film in this rather aggressive format is a profound challenge for the unaccustomed eye, but also the joy of rediscovery, maximum close-ups.

Another joy and pleasure is the opportunity to follow the story of the film – poetically speaking, an old song in new sounds. Laila Pakalniņa has always been the author of the screenplay for her feature films, and most often it was her own original story, except for the special case with Ausmu (2015) as a tribute to director Sergei Eisenstein and screenwriter Alexander Rzeshevsky. However, the scenarios of two feature films are already rooted in chrestomathy and well-known fairy tales – Shoes (1998) is the culmination of Cinderella’s losing shoes, while the new film In the mirror quite clearly tells the Snow White fairy tale, only in an absolutely unusual degree of attractiveness, supplementing the traditional story with one new hero – a fisherman sailor (Gatis Gaga), about whom “the Brothers Grimm simply did not think.”

And another miss of the Brothers Grimm, which Laila Pakalniņa has carefully corrected – in the old fairy tale Snow White’s father, the king marries the evil mother and does not know why he disappears from the stage, while in the film his logical father’s worries and anxieties

Joy for the body

Complemented with new images and contemporary transformations, the story of an ancient fairy tale In the mirror takes place as a fun attraction, in which the first level of entertainment is to appreciate how archetypal images were appointed in the 21st century and overgrown with modern details. The starting point of the film’s events is a gym, the obsession of the film’s characters – a cult of a physically trained body, Snow White’s father is a crossfire coach, her stepmother (fatally beautiful and trained in gymnastics Elza Leimane) – a fan of physical exercises. And the classic question: “Mirror, mirror…” is centered not on some relative “which is the most beautiful?” , but to the success that a person can achieve with willpower and hard work). The mentioned record is first reached by the stepmother, then Sniegbaltīte (Madlēna Valdberga) grows and surpasses it, but the stepmother no longer keeps up – because, logically and ironically, while Sniegbaltīte grows, the stepmother becomes older and (according to the gym criteria) unfit.

Other heroes of the fairy tale have also acquired new professions ironically corresponding to the 21st century: Hunter is a taxi driver (Kaspars Gods), Prince – curator of the Museum of Modern Art (Lithuanian actor Mīkols Vildžūns). The Seven Dwarfs are extreme sports professionals who demonstrate a variety of tricks, rolls, walking on walls, balancing on a bicycle and the like in the woods and in their amazing glass house (artist Aldis Meinerts).

By putting the achievements of physical movement and training at the center of the character’s life, Laila Pakalniņa and Gints Bērziņš get a great opportunity to enrich their black and white film with an ornamental and constantly changing background drawing – there down and the like – and the use of the selfie format is justified by the athletes’ well-understood pleasure about their body’s abilities and appearance. Some logic is also the basis of other heroes’ selfies, they are taken in more or less unusual situations and become windows of different angles to the film’s story, which in the meantime unfolds in its own nature, throwing a few parkour rolls – as unshakable as Snow White counts up to a million.

Proof of health

Laila Pakalniņa is also on her way, but I will not blur the pathetic statements about the director’s important place in the history of Latvian cinema – this place has long been undisputed, no matter how complicated her film relationship with the domestic audience is. Rather, perhaps in this age of short memory, it is worth looking at what the film is In the mirror means in today’s context, in the current film repertoire and in the processes of the Latvian film industry.

From this point of view, this bold experiment in form is a clear proof that the Latvian film industry is in good health and energetic at full maturity, as permits to conceive and can also realize a radical “real cinema” that goes beyond the cinematographer’s utilitarian needs. Important for the cinematographic quality of the industry is the fact that Latvian cinema professionals also offer films that not only serve the viewer’s desire to have fun after a long day, identify with familiar situations in a clear story, learn something useful, increase the spirit of patriotism and similarly, but break new paths creatively. and bravely plays with the means of cinematic expression, embodying the freedom and joy of creating – albeit in an absurd style, in a radically unexpected form and in a visual not very comfortable for the viewer.

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