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"LIMUZĪNS JĀŅU NAKTS KRĀSĀ" (LIMO THE COLOR OF SOLSTICE NIGHT) (1981)

Feature, 81 min. Director: Jānis Streičs. Script: Māra Svīre; Camera: Harijs Kukels; Art: Vassily Mass; Music: Raimonds Pauls. Cast: Lilita Bērziņa, Olga Dreģe, Uldis Dumpis, Gundars Āboliņš, Baiba Indriksone, Boļeslavs Ružs, Diāna Zande, Līga Liepiņa, Romualds Ancāns, Ēvalds Valters et al.

This popular comedy is a pure genre piece in the Latvian film art, demonstrating a perfect sense of style. 

This comedy, directed by Jānis Streičs (1936), is a mainstay on the TV programs the night of Summer Solstice. The popularity is well deserved.   Without any malevolence, the film reflects the Latvian mentality that includes such dubious traits as envy and greed. Although the coveted status symbol of the early 1980s, the "Žiguļi" ("Lada") car, won in a lottery by Aunt Mirta (Lilita Bērziņa), is gone forever, the play of human passions and internecine fighting to inherit the lonely old woman’s property seems timeless.

The plot revolves around the lottery winner, Aunt Mirta, whose good luck comes to the attention of her nephew Ēriks Tūters (Uldis Dumpis) with his wife Dagnija (Olga Dreģe) and son (Gundars Āboliņš), and the Sprēsliņš family – the honey dripping Olita (Baiba Indriksone) with her husband (Boļeslavs Ružs) and coquettish daughter Lāsma (Diāna Zande).  The reticent and rational historian Dagnija, the flatterer Olita, the middle-aged Ēriks, so taken with the youthful Lāsma – the interplay between these and other protagonists as they try to look better to Aunt Mirta and therefore be considered as deserving heirs, make for a humorous drama with witty dialogue and interesting conflicts.

While "Limuzīns Jāņu nakts krāsā" complements other comedies (e.g. , "Mans draugs nenopietns cilvēks", 1975) and dramas (the conceptually theatrical "Teātris" (1978), the historical psychodrama "Svešās kaislības" (1983) and the dedication to the exotic culture of southeastern Latvia, Latgale, "Cilvēka bērns" (1991) by Jānis Streičs, which are precise reflections of the era and characters, it has a special status in the eyes of the Latvian viewers.   

The funny and the comical is not what is most important for the director. He uses irony and precise observations to reveal characters and conflicts. Even Streičs’s caricatures (Romualds Ancāns as the tractor driver Jāzeps) are somehow attractive characters.

"Limuzīns Jāņu nakts krāsā" in a way is dedicated to a unique Latvian actress, the stage prima donna Lilita Bērziņa who, deliberately giving up her royal stance,   in the movie becomes a bent over old country woman. The last frame of the movie where Jānis Streičs is posing next to Mirta as her husband Jānis is also special. The psychodrama surrounding the inheritance is over, Aunt Mirta has passed away – over a fog covered mountain (this, incidentally, turned out to be the last frame in Lilita Bērziņa’s life). Yet Aunt Mirta, alongside her Jānis in a "live photograph" greets the dearly beloved remaining in this world of passions incited by material goods. She has left her car to the love of her youth, Pigalu Prīdis (Ēvalds Valters) who is completely indifferent to it. 

Dita Rietuma

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