REMINISCENCES OF A JOURNEY TO LITHUANIA (director: Jonas Mekas; cinematographer: Jonas Mekas; editor: Jonas Mekas; cast: Peter Kubelka, Annette Michelson, Daniel Rogosin; Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jonas Mekas; Vaughan Films; 1972)
“Moving personal odyssey documentary.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Archival filmmaker Jonas Mekas (“My Mars Bar Movie”/”Happy Birthday to John”/”A Letter From Greenpoint”) puts together from his collected footage a documentary in three parts. It begins with footage from his adoptive Brooklyn hometown in 1950. It features displaced persons from Lithuania feeling awkwardly out of place in their new American homeland at Stony Brook, L.I. and as immigrants living in Williamsburg, a summer picnic of immigrants on Atlantic Avenue, a hike in the Catskill Mountains and the adjustment of Jonas and his brother Adolfas to life in America. They were released from a Nazi labor camp in Hamburg after the war. It jumps to 1971 to show life in his agrarian village hometown of Semeniskiai, Lithuania. His mom and extended family and childhood friends living and working on a large Communist commune. His independent country was given to the Russians after the war at the Yalta Conference. In the third part he visits the Hamburg site of the labor camp where he was imprisoned and Vienna, with fellow filmmaker Peter Kubelka, who goes back to his hometown to visit a 200-year-old monastery and feed the pigeons in the park. It ends with a tremendous fire, as the old market place was set on fire by those who wanted a modern one in Vienna.
The moving personal odyssey documentary, showing home movies mostly made on a Bolex camera, clarifies for the filmmaker his evolution and tests his memory of places that meant a lot to him in the past. The heavily accented Jonas acts as narrator.
The film is part of the National Film Registry.
REVIEWED ON 1/29/2016 GRADE: B