Blizzard of Souls (film)

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Blizzard of Souls
Blizzard of Souls poster.png
International release poster
Directed byDzintars Dreibergs
Written byBoris Frumin[1]
Produced by
CinematographyValdis Celmiņš
Edited byGatis Belogrudovs
Music byLolita Ritmanis[1]
Release date
  • 8 November 2019 (2019-11-08)
Running time
  • 120 minutes (national version)[1]
  • 104 minutes (international version)[2]
LanguagesLatvian, Russian, German, Estonian

Blizzard of Souls (Latvian: Dvēseļu putenis) or The Rifleman (U.K. title)[2] is a 2019 Latvian historical drama directed by Dzintars Dreibergs.[1] It premiered on 8 November 2019 in Latvia[3] and on 20 February 2020 internationally at the European Film Market.[4] The film is an adaptation of Aleksandrs Grīns' novel of the same name written about his service as a Latvian Rifleman in World War I.[3] It was selected as the Latvian entry for the Best International Feature Film at the 93rd Academy Awards, but it was not nominated.[5][6][7]


After witnessing his mother being shot by the invading German troops, sixteen-year-old Artūrs, together with his father, decides to enlist in the national Latvian Riflemen battalions of the Imperial Russian Army in hopes of getting revenge and finding glory. Artūrs goes on to fight in World War I on the Eastern Front, where he loses his father and brother and quickly becomes disillusioned. Eventually, Artūrs returns to his newly-proclaimed country to fight in the Latvian War of Independence and start everything from scratch.



Oto Brantevics, the actor for the lead role of Artūrs, was selected out of 1,300 candidates, despite Brantevics having no prior acting experience.[8] Former Minister of Defence Raimonds Bergmanis made a cameo appearance in the film, while the then Minister of Defence Artis Pabriks appeared as an extra.[3] Several of the battle scenes were shot at the locations where the historical battles had taken place. Valdis Celmiņš drew inspiration for his cinematography from Christian Berger's concept of avoiding wide establishing shots by using a wide lens for medium shots and closeups, as well as László Nemes' film Son of Saul.[9]


Box office[edit]

During the first five weeks of screening the film was seen by more than 200,000 people, making it the most-watched film since the restoration of Latvian independence.[10][11][12]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 75% based on 16 reviews, with an average rating of 6.6/10.[13] Metacritic assigned the film a weighted average score of 63 out of 100 based on 9 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[14] Ellen E Jones of The Guardian praised Brantevics' acting, yet concluded that "as a national coming-of-age story, The Rifleman never quite outgrows its innocent, uncritical patriotism".[15] Deborah Young of The Hollywood Reporter also noted the film as being "underscored by evident, old-fashioned patriotism", but praised the "exceptionally atmospheric" cinematography by Celmiņš, "poignantly respectful" score by Ritmanis and editing by Belogrudovs, summarizing Blizzard of Souls as "[a] more realistic 1917".[16]

The acting and cinematography was similarly praised by Rob Aldam of Backseat Mafia who believed the film "has the look and feel of a Hollywood blockbuster" and called it "one of the best war films of the last few years".[17] Guy Lambert from The Upcoming described the cinematography as "utterly breathtaking" and "reminiscent of the brilliance of Band of Brothers" and called the acting "raw and exceptionally emotional", concluding "this film will no doubt be a hit."[18]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Result
2020 Kilogram of Culture Event of the Year (Blizzard of Souls) Won[19]
Tenerife International Film Music Festival Alex North Award Best Soundtrack (Lolita Ritmanis) Nominated[20]
IMAGO International Awards for Cinematography Best Cinematography (Valdis Celmiņš) Nominated[21]
Lielais Kristaps Best Fiction Feature Film (Inga Praņevska and Dzintars Dreibergs) Won[22]
Best Director (Dzintars Dreibergs) Won[22]
Best Cinematography in a Feature Film (Valdis Celmiņš) Won[22]
Best Make-Up (Dzintra Bijubena) Won[22]
Best Score (Lolita Ritmanis) Won[22]
Best Editing (Gatis Belogrudovs) Won[22]
Best Acting (Oto Brantevics) Nominated[23]
Best Screenplay (Boris Frumin, Dzintars Dreibergs) Nominated[23]
Best Production Design (Juris Žukovskis) Nominated[23]
Best Sound (Aleksandrs Vaicahovskis) Nominated[23]
Shanghai International Film Festival Audience Choice Award for Film (Dzintars Dreibergs) Nominated
Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival Best Baltic Film (Dzintars Dreibergs) Nominated[24]
World Soundtrack Awards Public Choice Award (Lolita Ritmanis) Nominated[25]
WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival Remi Award Best Actor (Oto Brantevics) Nominated[26]
Best Supporting Actress (Ieva Florence) Nominated[27]
2021 Hollywood Music in Media Awards Outstanding Score of Independent Foreign Language Film (Lolita Ritmanis) Won[28]
Society of Composers & Lyricists Awards Outstanding Original Score for Independent Film (Lolita Ritmanis) Won[29]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Blizzard of Souls". National Film Centre of Latvia. Archived from the original on 2 April 2018. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Latvian film "Blizzard of Souls" goes to UK and China". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 23 July 2020. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Blizzard of Souls is a reminder that Latvia's freedom was never a given - director". The Baltic Times. 11 November 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  4. ^ Balčus, Zane (20 January 2020). "Eyewell Picks Up Latvian BO Leader Blizzard of Souls". Film New Europe Association. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  5. ^ "Latvia enters film Blizzard of Souls for Oscar awards". National Film Centre of Latvia. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  6. ^ "Latvia submits Blizzard of Souls for the Oscars". The Baltic Course. 19 November 2020. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  7. ^ "FNE Oscar Watch 2021: Blizzard of Souls to Represent Latvia in Oscar Race". Film New Europe Association. 20 November 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  8. ^ Veidemane, Elita (7 November 2020). "Director Dzintars Dreibergs: Blizzard of Souls is the story of the birth of the Latvian state". Neatkarīgā Rīta Avīze. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  9. ^ Saito, Stephen (26 January 2021). "Interview: Dzintars Dreibergs, Oto Brantevics, Valdis Celmins and Lolita Ritmanis on Going to War in "Blizzard of Souls"". The Moveable Fest. Retrieved 30 January 2021.
  10. ^ ""Blizzard of Souls" breaks Latvian box-office records". Public Broadcasting of Latvia. 16 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  11. ^ Abbatescianni, Davide (17 December 2019). ""Blizzard of Souls" breaks Latvian box-office records". Cineuropa. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  12. ^ "Blizzard of Souls breaks attendance record with 200,000 people seeing the film in five weeks". The Baltic Times. 17 December 2019. Retrieved 17 December 2019.
  13. ^ "Blizzard of Souls". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved 30 October 2021.
  14. ^ "Blizzard of Souls". Metacritic. Red Ventures. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  15. ^ Jones, Ellen E (24 July 2020). "The Rifleman review – Latvian war epic aims high". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  16. ^ Young, Deborah (30 March 2020). "'Blizzard of Souls' ('Dveselu Putenis')". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  17. ^ Aldam, Rob (22 July 2020). "Film Review: The Rifleman". Backseat Mafia. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  18. ^ Lambert, Guy (21 July 2020). "Film Review: The Rifleman". The Upcoming. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  19. ^ "Prizes awarded to Kilogram of Culture winners". The Baltic Course. 19 February 2020. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  20. ^ "FIMUCITÉ 14 – 8th Edition of FIMUCINEMA". Tenerife International Film Music Festival. 28 August 2020. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  21. ^ "IMAGO International Awards. The Nominees". IMAGO International Awards for Cinematography. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  22. ^ a b c d e f Balčus, Zane (17 November 2020). "FNE at 2020 Latvian National Film Awards: Blizzard of Souls Leads with Six Awards". Film New Europe Association. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  23. ^ a b c d Balčus, Zane (10 September 2020). "The Sign Painter Tops 2020 Latvian National Film Award Nominations". Film New Europe Association. Retrieved 20 November 2020.
  24. ^ "14 films to compete at Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival's Baltic Competition programme". Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival. 2 November 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  25. ^ "World Soundtrack Awards 2020 – Winners". World Soundtrack Awards. 24 October 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  26. ^ "Congratulation to these nominees for the Best Actor category!". WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. 30 April 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2020 – via Facebook.
  27. ^ "Congratulation to these nominees for Best Supporting Actress!". WorldFest-Houston International Film Festival. 30 April 2020. Retrieved 1 December 2020 – via Facebook.
  28. ^ "Diane Warren & James Newton Howard Among Top Winners at 2021 Hollywood Music in Media Awards". Billboard. 27 January 2021. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
  29. ^ "Winners of the 2nd Annual SCL Awards". The Society of Composers and Lyricists. 2 March 2021. Retrieved 3 March 2021.

External links[edit]