This philosophical drama offers a psychological reflection of the post-war period. Caesar, a former Nazi concentration camp prisoner, sifts through his traumatic experiences. His memories materialize against the background of the new modern buildings of Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, and become even stronger when Caesar learns of the death of a friend and fellow traveler. Caesar’s daughter Veronica is a fervent young playwright seeking to immortalize her father’s experience on film. However, her attitude towards her father’s past is quite different from his own. Adopting a boldly non-linear narrative, AVE, VITA! takes the audience on a hallucinatory journey from the war years to the then-contemporary realities of the Soviet era.
The film features the concept of “Holocaust without Jews”. The real story that the scenarists described was about a Jew who survived the massacre in Paneriai and went to live abroad. However, every year during the day of his death march he came to Vilnius, put on the clothes of that time, fastened the yellow star of David and walked in the middle of the road from the main gate of the Vilnius ghetto to the Paneriai pits, in this way he wanted to remember everything what happened. At that time it was clear to both screenwriters that the motives associated with the Jews must be deleted from the script, they changed the name of the main character associated with the Jewish nationality, unbuttoned the yellow star and “made” him Lithuanian. On the other hand they gave him the non-Lithuanian name Caesar and elected an actor who was similar to a Jew because of his features, to perform this role. “Self-censorship” was insufficient and Soviet censors reconsidered the script, entire scenes were removed from the film and there are almost no allusions to Jews in Ave, Vita!.
The film initially was green-lighted only to show in Lithuania and banned to show in the rest of the Soviet Union.
3.25GB | 1h 28m | 1920×822 | mkv