When I Was Small

Kai aš mažas buvau
Director: Algirdas Araminas

Lithuania, 1968, 70 min.
Driven by an inexplicable impulse, high school graduates Eglė and Tomas run away from a formal museum tour. They are kindly accepted by a stud farm guard and even allowed to ride the horses. Regrettably, Tomas is met by his aunt’s old fashioned sermons at home, and a ‘D’ in chemistry at school. The friendship between Eglė and Tomas develops further until the girl starts attending drawing lessons given by a professional artist. Tomas’ imagination makes him suffer the torments of jealousy. He decides to talk to the imaginary rival ‘man to man’, but only gets drunk and his neighbour Gina, a pantomime actress, takes him home to hide him from his aunt. Whether the characters learn their first lessons of life, remains unclear. When they meet again, Eglė makes her first step towards reconciliation, showing her feminine wisdom.

The film is notable for the feeling of sincerity and the atmosphere of the Lithuanian capital city Vilnius in those days, seen through the eyes of lovers. It is easy to understand why this innocent and charming first love story received such negative criticism in Moscow. The film distances itself from the social soviet realism, which is only addressed with gentle irony - a Russian TV speaker pathetically condemns striptease; Tomas, neatly dressed for a date with Eglė, tells his aunt he is going to a communist meeting, while the lie is accompanied by the tune ‘Hello, Dolly’. The film shows a distinctive and intelligent European city with the corresponding personal freedom of the characters. That is why the film When I Was Small became something of representative picture of the 1960s generation. With a little connivance it can be compared with the first films of Francois Truffaut and Milos Forman depicting the rebellious young generation. It is good to have such films in Lithuania.

© Saulius Macaitis

* Text from www.lfc.lt
* Pictures from the funds of Lithuanian theatre, music and film museum
Section: One hundred Springtimes. Tribute to Vytautas Kernagis

Screenplay: Icchokas Meras, Algirdas Araminas

Dir. of Photography: Donatas Pečiūra

Music: Algimantas Apanavičius

Cast: Linas Kriščiūnas, Julija Kavaliauskaitė, Elena Remišauskienė, Elena Savukynaitė, Gediminas Karka, Juozas Miltinis, Kazimieras Valaitis, Henrika Hokušaitė, Bronius Babkauskas, Vytautas Kernagis, Jonas Kavaliauskas, Dalia Krikščiūnaitė etc