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Dovile TUMPYTÉ: That Sweet Word… (1977)

Films by Artūras Barysas-Baras presented at Amateur film festivals

The one-minute-length film That Sweet Word… (1977) can be interpreted as a metaphor for the relationship of man and the system (repression and one’s desire to be liberated): the film shows the character’s feet running across a bare field (towards the viewer) escaping from gun fire; when he approaches an obstacle – a kind of gate which creates the impression of having reached a dead end,  it turns out that the protagonist is a long-haired guy (hippy) with a striped shawl, struggling frantically to climb over the obstacle, yet finally collapsing, defeated. When the camera zooms-out to a wider angle, the viewer comes to realize the comic absurdity of the situation: as the rails are remnants of a former gate in an open town square which the protagonist could have easily walked around. The sound track (the original track must have been different, as the surviving copy features the beginning of The Friends of Mr. Cairo from the eponymous album by Jon and Vangelis (released in 1981) strengthens the impression of a comic thriller-like episode created by the film’s cinematography and Barysas’ character. At same time it is an ironical comment and response to the film That Sweet Word – Freedom.[1]

That Sweet Word… (1977) was screened at four festivals: the 4th Republican (LSSR) Humorous-Satirical Film Festival, 3 April,1977, awarded with the 3rd-degree cheese-sack; The 9th Film Festival of Baltic States and Leningrad City, Leningrad (now – St. Petersburg), 17 July, 1977, awarded with the 3rd-degree diploma in the experimental film category; The 9th Short-Film Competition in Riga, 19 September, 1977, awarded with the 2nd-degree diploma; The 19th ‘B-16’ Festival, Brno, Czechoslovakia, 29 October, 1978, awarded with the 3rd-degree diploma.

[1] Tas saldus žodis – laisvė! [That Sweet Word – Freedom] – is the 1973 film by the Lithuanian director Vytautas Žalakevičius. It was also dubbed a “revolutionary epic”, as identifying freedom with communism. It was shot by ‘Mosfilm’ in cooperation with the Lithuanian Film Studio. The action is set in one of South American countries in the 1960s. The revolutionaries struggle, unsuccessfully, to liberate their leaders from the prison. As a last resort, decision is made to dig a tunnel into their cell. The tunnel is built and the revolutionaries escape, but one of the liberated, upon encountering the reality in freedom, dies from a heart attack.

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