Elze's Life

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directed by Algimantas Puipa
starring Egle Jaselskyte, Kostas Smoriginas, Janina Lapinskaite, Andrius Paulavicius
produced by Robertas Urbonas
co-produced by Jan Fantl
based on the novel "Der Schaktarp" by Ernst Wichert

Festivals: Panorama section of the 50th Berlin Film Festival, 35th Karlovy Vary Film Festival

Adapted from the Ernst Wichert novel, this moving drama, unfolding the fates of a generation, is set in the exotic but barren region of East Prussia at the turn of the century.

Two fishing boats are struggling in the open seas in the deep fog...Two lives for which fate has connected with the ocean; fishery overseer Greenbaum and fisherman Jurgaitis. One of the boats heels over and suddenly Greenbaum is deep in the water and the only thing connecting him to life is the rope of his anchor. Jurgaitis chooses to save Greenbaum over leaving him for dead. However this act does him no good as he is convicted for attempted murder. His young daughter, Elze, is taken in by his old friend, the merchant Mykolas. As Elze grows and matures, it is in the house of Mykolas that the love among Elze and Mykolas' son Endrikie is born, a love that is doomed to repeat the destiny of Romeo and Juliet.

After Mykolas' untimely death, the fate of the young lovers falls into the hands of the widow Greta, who after her husband's death reveals her true masterful and unkind nature. It is then that the pivotal words are uttered forcing Elze to leave her home, "You shall not marry Elze even after my death - you must marry a German!"

This event evokes Endrikie into a battle with his mother in court for the inheritance, thusly sentencing Elze and Endrikie to a long and painful separation. The fate of their lives and their village suddenly lies in nature itself as an earth shattering storm sweeps icebergs through dwellings and destroys everything in its wake, once again proving to mankind the incompatibility of nature and civilization.

Elze is left alone in the world losing her true love and her father to nature's wrath. But out of destruction comes a new life to love and cherish....