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Interview: Dzintars Dreibergs, Oto Brantevics, Valdis Celmins and Lolita Ritmanis on Going to War in

On revisiting a nation's painful past and the path to a brighter future in Latvia's official section for the Oscars. For the better half of the 20th century, “Blizzard of Souls,” Aleksandrs Grīns’ memoir of his time in the army as a rifleman during World War I had been nearly impossible to read since its publication in 1934, as was most of his writing by the Soviet Union when it dealt with their occupation of his native Latvia. So there had been pent-up demand when its film adaptation opened last year, becoming a sensation at home that would easily outperform previous box office record holders such as “Avatar” and “Titanic,” perhaps taking their place but also fitting snugly alongside them when director Dzintars Dreibergs mounted a historical epic on a scale that had never been seen before from a local production. Staged over the course of a year in order to capture every season, the film goes into epic detail to convey the experience of Arturs (Oto Brantevics), a teenager in Jelgava who must ask for his father’s permission to join the battalion after the town is evacuated and his past is all but wiped away with the arrival of German forces and then comes to wish he hadn’t signed up for a war in which he sees fresh horrors on a daily basis as the Soviet Army, for whom the Latvians fight for at first, impose their own will to the point that local battalions start to form to fight for their independence.


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