Latvian animator Signe Baumane (with a long list of shorts to her credit) releases her first feature length film–a chronicle of mental illness played out against 20th Century Latvian history including economic booms/busts, invasions by Nazis/Russians, & life in the former Soviet Union.
Female relatives fall in love & get pregnant, then succumb to depression & suicide. (JLH: 3.5/5)
Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. NOT YET SEEN BY RICH.
Signe Baumane is a brilliant animator and she has a profoundly moving story to tell–at once a macrocosm of 20th Century life in Latvia as well as a microcosm of how the women in one family adapted for awhile but eventually gave up–but I’m not sure this was the best way to tell it.
In a feature-length film, Baumane’s personal narration–88 minutes worth in heavily-accented English–weighs her images down. After a while, it became hard to keep watching. I wish she had hired actors so that the different characters each had a voice of her own.
I understand it was personally significant to tell her story in her own voice, but Baumane’s deliberate decision to take their individual voices away from them cames to feel like the final indignity forced on lives lived in pain and isolation.
Top Drawing: A portrait of a woman withdrawing from her marriage & finding “refuge” in clinical depression.
Bottom Drawing: Signe’s grandmother Anna was the brightest child in a large rural family. Her father sacrificed to send her to college in Riga only to see her marry a no-goodnik who imprisoned her on his farm perpetually pregnant and in despair. As soon as she was able to force her eight children out of the nest & into Soviet-run boarding schools, she swallowed a bottle of antidepressants and died of “heart failure” at age 50…
Yes! Signe rarely has any conversations with her father or her male relatives. Stories are related to her by her mother (who was not Anna’s child) and various female relatives.