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Devil's Bride

Velnio nuotaka
Director: Arūnas Žebriūnas

Lithuania, musical, 1974, 78 min.

Once upon a time in Eden, when God was taking a nap after some sweet chorals, a local mutiny broke out. The feasting and dancing of the angels got out of control and became a wild orgy. The Lord woke up in the middle of the party and dissipated the disobedient with mighty lightning strikes. One of them, Pinčiukas, demoted to an imp, falls straight into the pond of the elderly miller Baltaragis. The man and the devil strike a deal - the wings of the windmill spin without wind, Baltaragis marries his beloved woman Marcelė, and the devil gets what the miller still does not possess. Marcelė dies bearing a child, Jurga, who soon grows into a beautiful girl. Pinčiukas comes to claim his share of the bargain, but Jurga does not fancy the imp. She is in love with a valiant young man Girdvainis, who loves her in return as much as he loves his dapple-grey horses. Pinčiukas persuades the rustler Raupys to steal the horses, while the old man Baltaragis tries to double-cross the devil and marries off the spinster Uršulė instead of his daughter. However, the love of Girdvainis and Jurga is lost for ever. The optimistic finale probably only shows what might have been.

Commentary: This is one of the most popular and characteristic Lithuanian films. The decision of Žebriūnas to adapt a legend from national literature was very risky. However, he did not feel the fear that constrained him during the filming of the The Little Prince (Mažasis princas). The filmmaker chose the genre of a musical or a rock opera, thus staying close to the book, and creating a unique work of cinematography. One might argue that some of the visual solutions in Devil’s Bride and the portrait of Girdvainis exchanging love for an ephemeral idea of horses might seem too static. Of course, the film does not reach the philosophical dimensions of the novel, but it was never supposed to. The vivid and powerful - though blatantly modernised - folklore spectacle carried by Ganelinas’ catchy music is joyful and relaxing. Devil’s Bride destroys the legend of the Lithuanians’ moody character established by other Lithuanian films, impresses the audience with its cheerful liveliness, and thus can be distinguished from the rest of Lithuanian cinema.

© Saulius Macaitis

Section: One hundred Springtimes. Tribute to Vytautas Kernagis

Screenplay: Sigitas Geda, Arūnas Žebriūnas

Dir. of Photography: Algimantas Mockus

Music: Viačeslavas Ganelinas

Cast: Vaiva Mainelytė (dainuoja Asta Chomentauskienė), Regimantas Adomaitis (dainuoja Vytautas Kernagis), Gediminas Girdvainis (dainuoja Jonas Rupša), Regina Varnaitė (dainuoja Birutė Dambrauskaitė), Bronius Babkauskas (dainuoja Alfonsas Vaškevičius), Vasilijus Simčičius (dainuoja Viktoras Malinauskas), Juozas Meškauskas (dainuoja Alfonsas Vaškevičius), Jonas Pakulis; Regina Arbačiauskaitė, Zigmas Banevičius, Feliksas Einas, Valdemaras Jatautis, Juozas Kanopka, Rimgaudas Karvelis, Danutė Krištopaitytė, Gediminas Pranckūnas, Birutė Raubaitė, Jūratė Onaitytė, Aleksandras Ribaitis, Edgaras Savickis, etc