« Spare Parts, 2003 | Main | Vesna, 1953 »


July 22, 2008

Valley of Peace, 1956

peace.gifOvertly influenced by René Clément's anti-war film Forbidden Games, France Stiglic's equally poignant and impassioned Valley of Peace captures the horrors of war as seen through the eyes of its most vulnerable victims - a young girl named Lotti (Evelyne Wohlfeiler) and a protective older boy, Marko (Tugo Stiglic). Taken into custody by German soldiers who are rounding up children orphaned by recent air raids for placement in foster homes, Lotti longs to go to the Valley of Peace that her late grandmother had often sung about, an idyllic place just beyond the trees and across a flowing river that remains untouched by war. Convinced that Lotti's description matched his uncle's farmhouse perfectly, Marko decides to run away with Lotti and, with little more than Lotti's doll in tow, make their way through the hinterlands where a buffer zone exists between the Germans who are still in the process of scouting the uncharted territory, and partisans who have fortified their positions along the foothills. Cornered by pursuing German soldiers, and frightened by the sight of low flying Allied planes on a reconnaissance mission, the children attempt to cross the river only to find themselves stranded in midstream by the deep waters, rescued by an American pilot, Jim who parachuted into safety after his plane was shot down (in a groundbreaking performance by African-American expatriate, John Kitzmiller who received the Award for Best Actor at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival). Determined to bring the children to the safety of the uncle's farm and seek assistance from the partisans hiding beyond the valley, Jim becomes a surrogate parent to the deeply traumatized children and, consequently, comes to embody all their pinned hopes for finding peace. As in Forbidden Games, Valley of Peace similarly wears its heart on its sleeve to create an unabashedly humanist moral tale on the folly of war and its toll on the innocent. Using the turning of the waterwheel as a metaphor for the children's return to normalcy, the image becomes one of inherent contradiction, signaling both a long-awaited homecoming and the impossibility of coming home.

Posted by acquarello on Jul 22, 2008 | | Filed under 2008, Slovenian Cinema

Comments

I've been searching for that movie for over 45 years. I saw it in the cinema when I was young and later I've watched on on television. I cried my eyes out. I would love to have a copy of this movie on video or dvd. Can someone please help me to it?

Kind regards,
Gerry Jöris
Utrecht, The Netherlands

Posted by: Gerry Jöris on Sep 09, 2009 7:45 AM | Permalink

I Saw Dolina Miry perhaps 45 years ago and I remember seeing it through veil of tears! I wish I knew how to find it and it took me a long time to find this site. I would upload it in U TUBE so people can sea that magnificent work of Stiglic
Blagodaran sam! Srecna Nova Godina from Israel

Posted by: samuel Avyatar on Jan 09, 2010 1:36 PM | Permalink

You'd think that with Kitzmiller's involvement (and Cannes award) that this would get some kind of distribution in the US, but it hasn't happened. The print that screened at the retrospective was in great shape too, so it's not as though it needs additional funding for restoration.

Posted by: acquarello on Jan 09, 2010 8:29 PM | Permalink

It would be nice if this movie was released on DVD, I have been searching everywhere for it with no success, Youtube only has 15 minutes of it - such a tease!

Posted by: DT on Mar 25, 2011 8:37 AM | Permalink


Post a comment:

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)