Reviewed by: Andrew Robertson

Marija is a little girl around whom there is fire. It's hard to say that it's her fault, but she's involved. She may be angelic in appearance but flames appear when she is near. Is it brimstone, or something more sinister?

The film, crisply shot, matter-of-factly, even, opens with a pregnant woman walking across the screen. No head, no feet, just intent. The star is clear; this is our Marija, in the womb. Her mother is walking by a vast fire station, and before the open door of garage thirteen there is a dalmatian, which barks at her. Is this cause, effect?

It matters not. What follows is charming, delightful. As a child Marija runs around singing to a ladybird until there is a mishap, and then she is taken to hospital. Mayhem, of sorts, ensues. This is gentle, beautiful work, shot with an almost painterly eye. The use of light in particular is striking, and the colours are tremendously presented. The fire engines are red, the hospital is crisp and white, and in conjunction with these solid colours the sound is as perfectly judged. The fire, in particular, is wondrous to the ear.

Director Laila Pakalnina has created a delightful film, which appears to be a companion piece to Udens, or Water. Though filmed in 2007, Uguns is old-fashioned in appearance and approach, but no less pleasant for it.

Marija's ability, if indeed it is one that she possesses rather than merely something that happens around her, may be either gift or curse, but it's certainly enough to spark interest in an audience.

Reviewed on: 24 Feb 2009
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The original oblivious firestarter.

Director: Laila Pakalnina

Year: 2007

Runtime: 12 minutes

Country: Latvia


Glasgow 2009

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