Vilko dantu karoliai 1997
1h 32min | Biography, Drama
The artist Tadas workshop on the wall of time hanging wolf tooth necklace, which reminds him of his childhood. Those days went to his grandmother and uncle, James, in the countryside, because his father left the family, a single mother could not raise a child. And he passed Thaddeus childhood, filled with joy and children’s concerns. (google translated)
It is the oppressive years just after the Second World War, the last years of Stalin’s dictatorship. Young Tadulis is sent to live with his granny and uncle Jokubas on their farm in rural Lithuania, after his father Simonas was exiled to Siberia for being an ‘enemy of the State’. His mother did not have the means to look after her son and stayed behind in town.
The boy helps his uncle fish and seems to enjoy quite a happy childhood. He even falls in love with a friend. After a few years Tadulis gets sent back to live with his mother in town, where he is in for a rude awakening. His mother is having a hard time making ends meet, and she has to sell her body to make a living. Among her customers are influential politicians and police officers. The boy is growing up fast and like many kids his age he has a rebellious streak. He breaks a few shop windows, produces a memorable play with a few friends and even has his first sexual experience with a girl ‘with a reputation’.
His father gets released from Siberian exile earlier than expected, and back at home discovers that his wife and son had changed a lot. His wife seems to be aloof, even cold. In an indiscreet moment Tadulis hints to his dad that his mother was sleeping with other men. This back-stabbing act would haunt Tadulis the rest of his life.
I found the acting above average. The set and costumes seem truly authentic and together with traditional-sounding music included in the soundtrack created just the right ambiance. A lot can be said about the cinematography. The camera team made extensive use of various colour filters. The yellow and amber hues and greys tend to dominate many of the scenes, and in my view should have been used with a lighter hand. Apart from this minor criticism, some of the scenes are absolutely stunningly beautiful. The highlight for me is the surreal scenes towards the end of the film.
Other films have covered the theme of a Russian (or previous ‘East Block’) father who joins his family after an extended absence (through imprisonment, for example), and the difficulties to adapt to the changed situation at home. Just think of the excellent ‘The Return’, director Andrey Zvyagintsev’s debut film of 2003, or the 1988 film ‘Frangsuz’ (aka ‘Frenchman’ or ‘Frantsuz’) by director Galina Daneliya-Yurkova. In terms of cinematic quality ‘Vilko Dantu Karoliai’ is comparable with ‘Frangsuz’, but not quite as good as the outstanding ‘The Return’.
‘Vilko Dantu Karoliai’ lacks a strong story-line and has little suspense, so some viewers may be disappointed. I however found it a nostalgic and rewarding viewing experience.
Director: Algimantas Puipa
Writers: Leonardas Gutauskas (novel), Algimantas Puipa
Stars: Vidas Petkevicius, Monika Biciunaite, Remigijus Bilinskas
Also Known As: A Wolf Teeth Necklace