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Pie Bagātās Kundzes 1969
Description: Riga, 1930. Educated unemployed Olgerts, who knows English, French and Latin, works various types of casual jobs. Together with his friend, tramp Fridis, they sometimes work for tiny entrepreneurs the Kalnkajas family. Mr.Kalnkaja dreams of becoming member of parliament. Olgerts feel responsible for the fate of Emma, who has just come out of prison. He supports to receive her a maid's position in the Kalnkaja household.
Released: 08 Sep 1969 Director: Leonids Leimanis Writers: Leonids Leimanis, Andrejs Upit (novel) Actors: Eduards Pavuls, Liga Liepina, Karlis Sebris, Luijs Smits Genres: Comedy, Drama
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Pie Bagātās Kundzes Reviews:

This is an perfect Latvian Soviet social drama by Latvian screen-legend Leonisds Leimanis set in the Nice Depression-era Riga. Though a thoroughly Communist movie (the historical context of the movie seems to have gone fully unnoticed for the previous reviewer) in a semi-dated realist style, the film's skillful execution and nice actors create it a highly enjoyable humanist, though still anti- democratic, tragicomedy. The scenario of the movie stands out from your standard Socialist Realist text for the fact that the novel on which it is based was penned by Latvian writer Andrejs Upīts in 1937, three years before the Sovietization of independent Latvia. This was the time when Latvian leftists, like their contemporaries in the West, were writing imaginative social novels that became the fore-bearers of postwar Neo-Realism, something quite various from the Soviet boilerplate odes on Stalin and the kolkhozes. The movie is also an interesting historical document on the methods the interwar democratic republic was allowed and encouraged to be represented in the late 1960s USSR. The movie mocks multiparty state and the parliamentary system, makes all Latvian students look fascist and Latvian police their software - a horrible pseudo-historical disinformation. The party's are rarely mentioned by name, only identified by numbers to delegitimize them and their promises and probably in order not to remind the audience the benefits of pluralistic representative democracy. Clearly, there is one unmentioned party the folks could be voting for.. Ironically, at the time of its setting and the writing of the novel, the USSR was the most violent state on earth, starving to death 6 million Ukrainian peasants, deporting hundreds of thousands of "kulaks", and beginning its carnival of present trials and deadly purges vs the "enemies of the people" from high party bosses and military leaders to urban prostitutes and vagrants. The movie seems semi-dated, because it reminds one movies of the era of its base-novel. A comparison with Ford's Grapes of Wrath should be in order. Yet, the movie has also elements of both Neo-Realism and Fresh Wave and it ends with a shot straight out of Truffaut. This is a highly suggested Soviet Latvian drama film, not only for its crafty execution, but also for what it reveals about Communist propaganda and its critique of an launch society at the dawn of stagnation.


I recently came upon some thoughts I had contributed to the Classic Movie Board's weekly thread regarding this necessary and externally under-remembered Latvian film. In light of the impending demise of the IMDb message boards on the 20th of February of this year, it strikes me as being appropriate to add these comments to this film's entry so that there might at least be one review to tantalize and intrigue, to some extent, those who might be prospective viewers.Leonids Leimanis is a director whose work greatly fascinates me. 2015 allowed me to explore two of his most brilliant movies in 'Mech i roza' (1959) and this one from ten years later. I subsequently, in 2016, got the possibility to view few of his another brilliant and influential films. His are beautifully humane movies that portray with considerable deftness and acuity the layers and interconnections of Latvian society. I saw this one without subtitles (something that I don't really mind all that much) but the insight and artistry of Leimanis's film-making still proved utterly captivating and involving.Thinking about 'Pie bagatas kundzes' makes me smile in satisfied recollection. A Capra-esque comedy-drama, it has to be one of the most revelatory delights I saw throughout all of 2015. Shining a light, as it did, upon a national cinema that I was hugely unfamiliar with, my initial intrigue turned to fascinated engagement as the creativeness and elegance of the piece drew me in from the very outset. The extraordinarily fluid and observant opening scenes of road flavour among the poorer classes in Riga possess a memorable vitality and pictorial artistry and offer an element of social realism that grounds ensuing flights of fancy firmly in the aspirations and struggles of the hard-working and under-pressure every-man and every-woman. I found the movie to be both funny and probing. The deft sarcasm which is brought to bear on the politically tumultuous case in the Latvia of the 1920s and 30s is other aspect that recommends this Baltic example of biting satire and touching humanism. Imagine a socially-aware Hollywood romantic comedy of the 1930s mixed up in a cocktail with the joie de vivre and sparkling spontaneity of avant-garde cinema of the 1960s and you might receive some concept of the movie and its remarkable qualities.The legendary Eduards Pavuls and the lovely Liga Liepina create for charming and interesting leads and, based upon this, I can't wait to discover further the cinema of their pretty country. Few joyous scenes from the movie will live long in my memory; Liepina as the compulsive thief, Emma, skipping through city and asking to see jewellery in a shop. And then in her fresh dress daintily and adventurously balancing on a board overlooking the pier. Oh, the memories! They live on and dance in my heart! There is an ebullience and a vitality to so much of this movie and these scenes in particular possess an exuberance that is charmingly infectious and quite magical. With this film, Leimanis has bequeathed a creation that manages to balance moods to considerable result and reveals itself to be a touchingly humorous, insightful, and artistically compelling accomplishment worthy of much wider recognition and acclaim.



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