Blizzard of Souls
Latvia's Official Submission to the Academy Awards
Blizzard of Souls pays stark witness to the horrors and brutality of the First World War, as seen through the eyes of an innocent 17-year-old farm-boy turned soldier. Though he is underage, and his dad, a former marksman, is overage for the army, they are both conscripted into one of Latvia’s first national battalions. The thrill of training is soon followed by reality, as shells burst around them in the endless mud. He grows up on the battlefield, fighting at the side of his father and brother, their lives are constantly in jeopardy.
Adapted from the book by Aleksandrs Grins, which was banned in the U.S.S.R., the story was based on Grins’ own war experiences in a Latvian battalion, and the film is the biggest box office success in Latvia in the past 30 years.
- "...an honest yet frenzied interpretation of the veracity of warfare, with utterly breathtaking cinematography, reminiscent of the brilliance of Band of Brothers.... As the young, endearing lead, Brantevics is extraordinary...."
- "[O]ne of the best war films of the last few years."
- "Blizzard of Souls derives its power from its strong, simple depiction of war seen through the eyes of an innocent 17-year-old soldier. ...exceptionally atmospheric cinematography...."
- "Blizzard of Souls is the top-grossing film of all time at the Latvian box office and if you had to guess at the kind of film that would inspire such nationwide enthusiasm, you’d guess it was something like this: a lavishly mounted, lion-hearted first world war epic based on a book banned by the Soviets for 60 years."
- "Thanks to Oto Brantevics’ effective and realistic performance as Arturs and a tense plot filled with brutal deaths, Dreibergs’ war drama cannot leave anyone indifferent. "
- "This lushly mounted historical drama was, not surprisingly, a huge success at the box-office in Latvia, and an impressive first feature for Latvia’s Dzintars Dreibergs."
- "The filmmakers are unafraid of the picturesque, lighting scenes so they resemble old-master canvases. [E]motionally powerful...."
- "With its muscular direction by former documentarian Dzintars Dreibergs, atmospheric cinematography and careful attention to period detail, this account of a troop of Latvian Riflemen fighting first for the Russian Imperial Army against invading German forces and then for an independent Latvia should appeal to WWI buffs and fans of Sam Mendes’ “1917.” The convincing tech package could stand its own against Hollywood productions, while the symphonic score by composer Lolita Ritmanis (an Emmy winner for “Batman Returns”) anchors cinematographer Valdis Celmins’ epic sweep. "
- "This film is a quiet stunner. It's a powerful indictment of war."
- "Mr. Dreibergs shows such skill at crafting a big-budget, multi-character, pull-out-all-the-stops war movie that I can't imagine it will be long before Hollywood comes calling. "
- "“Blizzard of Souls” maintains an undeniably raw power as a small country’s coming-of-age story, told through a bright-eyed wannabe hero and forged in a maelstrom of death and disillusionment. Latvia’s struggle has inspired a solidly realistic entry in the war film canon, one that fittingly honors Aleksandrs Grins’ testimony of living through one era of humanity at its worst."
- "...handsome, well-acted, and expansively produced. "
- "Dreibergs excels with his measured but immersive set pieces—like one that unravels in a snowy landscape at night, best exemplifying his directorial brawn. "
- "...engaging, beautifully shot, ambitious in scope...."
- "The crowning achievement of this film is its battle scenes. In gruesome detail, we see the horrors, anxieties, and consequences of war. The way the scenes are blocked are extremely visceral and immersive. Some sequences elicit genuine fear and heart racing tension. It is easily one of the most thoroughly invigorating presentations of WWI on film. The cinematography is also extremely gorgeous. Valdis Celmins brilliantly encapsulates moods and emotions in the way he lights and frames his scenes and subjects. "
- "Blizzard of Souls is a poignant, visceral, sad, and altogether inspiring war drama with a commitment to authenticity, fantastic acting, and a compelling story."
Awards & Recognition
IMAGO Int'l. Award
Remi Award - Best Actor
Remi Award - Best Supporting Actress
Best Baltic Film
Tallinn Black Nights Festival
Audience Choice Award
Shanghai Int'l. Film Festival