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Legend Coming True

Deimantas Narkevicius

Lithuania, 1999
68 minutes, Colour, Stereo, 4:3
Original format: Super 8 film
Available formats: DVD / SD Digital file / Digibeta tape

After a few seconds of cinematic silence, the voice of a small girl bounces off the screen. This invisible child re-tells – in Lithuanian – the founding legend of the city of Vilnius, as concocted by romantic 19th century historians. The screen is lighting up, little by little. The sun, shining in through a window, helps the girl to find the last words in the open book. This is the beginning of Deimantas Narkevicius’ film Legend Coming True. Fade-out. The Lithuanian stuttering of the girlish voice gives way to the high-pitched voice of elderly woman speaking in fluent, Yiddish-tinged Russian. The narrative unfolds in calm, almost hypnotically rhythmic fashion. The voice belongs to Fania, an old Jewish resident of Vilnius who survived the Holocaust in this legendary city. Although she is the protagonist, she remains invisible in the film, just like that other historical figure – the legendary prince. The story spans an extraordinarily vast territory: Kaunas, Vilnius, Israel, Varena, Tadjikistan, Italy, Latvia, Paris, Australia, Toronto, Siberia, Stutthof, Los Angeles, Paneriai. The extensive network of a scattered Jewish community. But the fundamental topography of the film is made up of four aspects of Vilnius: the childhood street, the school facade, the ghetto yard and the Rudninkai forest. In those four locations around Vilnius, all of them dramatically associated with Jewish history, Deimantas Narkevicius had a camera rigged for 24 hours. The camera was programmed to shoot one frame every minute. In this way, the 24 hours of shooting became 14 minutes of viewing. The result is similar to animated film. These are four days and nights, compressed and wrapped in a story that takes more than an hour to tell. Our protagonist brings together the whole 20th century in the time of her story. In the beginning of the film, mythical time is being spoken, and at the end there is a performance of meta-historical hope. This multi-dimensional temporal structure must be a necessary tool for bringing us as close as possible to the truth of the event. Deimantas Narkevicius tries to give a voice to those who lost their privileges, and to remind us about the ideas of social and historical justice. The protagonist of Legend Coming True rescued herself and others. The author of the film is rescuing several things: the ideas of history, truth and civic responsibility.