‘Ashes in the Snow’ review: The best Lithuanian film of this age

Posted: Monika Rimaitė Date: 2018-10-18 09:56

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"Ashes in the Snow" (2018)

Ashes in the Snow, already titled as one of the best Lithuanian films to be seen by everyone, tells the painful and shocking story of the nation. The biggest attention and applauses goes to the excellent work of the creative team, script, costumes, sound editing, and well-designed characters.

The movie is based on Lithuanian-born writer’s Ruta Sepetys Between Shades of Grey, a New York Times best-selling novel, which has been translated into more than 27 languages and even included in the book list of the most recommended for schoolchildren in Lithuania.

Strong Creative Team

Director and scriptwriter Marius Markevicius, previously known from the documentary film The Other Dream Team, presented a beautiful and thrilling drama not only for Lithuanians, but also for audiences around the world. The movie was created by an international team of Lithuanian, American, and British producers.

The film was produced by Žilvinas Naujokas, who created Tadas Blinda: The Beginning, one of the most well-known movies from Lithuania. Cinematographer Ramunas Greicius has won many international awards for his works. Editing Director Veronika Jenet who was nominated for an Oscar for her work with Jane Campion. Composer Volker Bertelmann, who won several awards for his musical scores for Lion, also contributed to this film.

Production for Ashes in the Snow took approximately five years to complete. Some scenes included as many as 700 people. Scenography, costumes, and superb acting created a cinematic masterpiece. It is often said that the book is better than the movie, but in this case the movie is as good as the book it is based on.

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What is Ashes in the Snow about

The idea of this movie is to show and tell the history of Lithuania and the Baltic States not only to Lithuanian people, but also to the international audience around the world. The movie will be shown in Hollywood too. Ashes in the Snow tells the history of exile in the eyes of a young girl Lina Vilkas (Bel Powley), and the evening of June 14, 1941, when her peaceful life and the dream of studying fine arts was smashed into pieces by the unexpected visit of NKVD officers which threw her, her mother and brother to Siberian animal wagons. Hundreds of thousands of other Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians also met the same fate.

The film creates an environment that allows to be deeply involved together with the actors and experience deportations of and innocent people to Siberia. It let’s to observe how faith and hope can help to survive inhumane conditions, and that it’s possible to keep a fragile faith of returning home.

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Foreigners acting as Lithuanians

We watch foreign and Lithuanian actors playing well in the movie. The role of Lina Vilkas was created by a fast-growing British actress Bel Powley, known from the film A Royal Night Out. The role of Elena Vilkas was played by the actress Lisa Loven Kongsli, whose character became the most important in bringing the hope for all of the exiles, kept the light of salvation to her children Lina and Jonas (Tom Sweet) to survive the horrors in Siberia. NKDV officer Nikolai Kretzsky’s (Martin Wallström) conflict with his inner demons. The audience can only observe whether humanity will overtake Nikolai’s personality or not. Lina’s father Kostas Vilkas (Sam Hazeldine), Andrius Aras (Jonah Hauer-King), and the NKDV commanders all did a great job on the screen. Other notable actors include Sophie Cookson (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Peter Franzén (Vikings TV series), and Martin Wallström (Mr. Robot TV series, Golden Globe Winner for Best Television Drama Series). The film also features notable Lithuanian actors Aistė Diržiūtė, Ramūnas Cicėnas, Gabija Jaraminaitė, and Darius Meškauskas.


Return to the horrible page of the history

The creative team of this film reminded us the extremely painful pages of Lithuanian history. Over a thousand of costumes, makeup, decorations, and hairstyles of that period, let’s us feel the authentic atmosphere of the time. The cinematography made it possible to dip further into spectacular landscapes, sound editing also contributed to a more powerful and stronger heart thrills. Ashes in the Snow - helps us to look closer at what the exiles have experienced as a true struggle of surviving.