Saturday, October 25, 2008

Vella Kalpi Velna Dzirnavas (The Devil's Servants at the Devil's Mill)

Comedy/Adventure. 1972.
Directed by Aleksandrs Leimanis.
Based on the novels of Rutku Tevs.
Written by Janis Anerauds.

If "Vella Kalpi" has not aged well, then time has been even less kind to its sequel, "Vella Kalpi Velna Dzirnavas." Its a pale imitation, as most sequels are, of the original. It has a Ballywood, and it was made long before the term was coined for the Indian movie industry, feel to it. Musical number, fight scene, love scene, a gag, repeat until done. They don't really have to be related. There are those who have drawn parallels between Indian and indigenous Latvian culture. There might be something to it.
The fight scenes are poorly choreographed. The love scenes never progress past adolescent lechery and the gags are forced. The musical numbers, if you are a fan of Raimonds Pauls circa 1970, at least seem to work and it does have Eduards Pavuls in it. One of my favorite Latvian actors and he, even when hamming it up, always seems more natural than most of those who share the screen with him.
The story is your standard swashbuckler fare. The Kalpi steal the ceremonial key to Riga. The burgermeisters of Riga try to get it back. Musical number, fight scene, love scene, gag, repeat, and everything ends happily with the Kalpi emerging victorious.
As with the original "Vella Kalpi," I wish I could have seen it when it first came out. I remember looking forward to its release with the same bated breath as today's kids looked forward to "Harry Potter," but we left Latvia before it hit the screens. I am sure I would have loved it. I would have been 10 at the time.

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