This is a poorly edited, low-resolution trailer for a film that has taken on mythic properties in my life: Land of Glass (Stiklo šalis) by Janina Lapinskaitė. I saw it seven years ago, I think, at the European Union Film Festival put on every year by the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago. It’s both deeply disturbing and genuinely beautiful, in that it wrestles with some of the ugliest and most hopeless feelings of depression (specifically postpartum depression) with the kind of grace and care and beauty that I tend to associate with the most life-affirming art. I continue to find it tremendously haunting: the film’s strange and very specific use of color, the sparse but occasionally luscious score aching beneath the surface of the image, the overwhelming sense of isolation and captivity, the growing realization that I had no choice but to feel the same feelings as the main character, and the sense of dread and doom that realization produced as it became clearer and clearer where she was headed emotionally. I remember these feelings in precise detail, though I can recall practically nothing of the film’s actual content.
This is because the film has been literally impossible to revisit. It went to very few festivals and doesn’t seem to have had a theatrical run anywhere other than Lithuania, nor does it seem to have ever received any kind of home video release, even in its own country. This trailer, when I came across it a few days ago, is the first time I’ve seen any moving images of the film since the first and only time I saw it.
I still think about Stiklo šalis fairly often. It’s the sort of film I have no choice but to think about. I wonder whether I’ll ever have the opportunity to see it again, or whether its aftereffects will continue to mutate in my mind until my impressions of it are more invention than memory. Perhaps that’s already happened. Perhaps, if I do see it again, it’ll seem light and inconsequential compared to my memories.
I wonder how our modern ability to personally store our most treasured works of art (or at least reasonable facsimiles of them) and revisit them any time we want has changed the way audiences engage with and interact with art. I deeply value my ability to watch my favorite films over and over again and discover things I hadn’t seen before, and to see how my experience of them changes as I change. But it seems like there’s also great value in the kind of engagement I have with Stiklo šalis, which at this point likely has as much to do with my own imagination and creative impulse as it does with anything originating in the film itself.
(Even so, if anyone knows how I can see this film again, please tell me!)