• Dita Rietuma R



Latvian film, modernism, art cinema, new wave, Rolands Kalniņš, Rolands Kalnins, Four White Shirts


The 1950s and 60s in European film history is considered to be modernist period that was most explicitly manifested in the cinema of West European countries (France, Italy and others). Fragmentation of the narrative, loosening of linkage between events, innovative approaches in editing, foregrounding of subjectivity are only some of formal techniques characterizing the modernist aesthetics in cinema. In the soviet period of Latvian film history there are merely a few films in which one can identify modernist features. Basically, those are films by Rolands Kalniņš and in particular his feature film “Four White Shirts” (1967). By its form this film is very unusual in the context of Latvian film history and it resonated with the dominant trends in West European cinema in the 1950s and 60s. “Four White Shirts”, as well as several other films by Rolands Kalniņš, like “Stone and Flinders” (Akmens un šķembas, 1966), and “Maritime Climate” (Piejūras klimats, 1974) were banned by censorship and never got to cinema screens and were practically “erased”, eliminated from the Latvian cinema processes. The present research will be an analysis of the aesthetics of Rolands Kalniņš’ film “Four White Shirts” (1967) focusing on those elements in the film that are typical for European modernist cinema. The return of the film “Four White Shirts” to the world cinema context took place half a century after it was made – its restored print was included in Cannes Film Festival programme Cannes Classics in 2018. The international premier of the film in 2018 enabled it to become the most renowned Latvian fiction film in Western Europe by revealing the internationally practically unknown modernist period of Latvian cinema in the 1960s that culminated in Rolands Kalniņš’ film “Four White Shirts”. The destiny of this film, the ban to screen it publicly affirms the fact that modernist aesthetics was considered to be unacceptable within the context of the soviet culture.


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