Yet even though the defense of the homeland is the main motivation of men, “Blizzard of Souls” does not support empty heroism in its portrayal of war without criticism. The loss of life left behind as a result of each armed confrontation weighs heavily on all surviving participants. Their reactions to the carnage are marked by a lack of emotional preparation expected of adolescents and young men torn from civilian life and thrown into the murderous trenches.
When not in active combat, the signs that history does not want to give way completely to nationalism are slightly more pronounced. Shortly after the chaos near the film’s climax, Arturs burns two pieces of propaganda, one Soviet and one German, claiming his loyalty rests on hopes for an independent Latvia. But later, when his bravery is publicly acknowledged, a questionable look at a mother whose son has died on the battlefield suggests that there is uncertainty within him as to whether it was worth it.
Clean-shaven and wide-eyed, Brantevics ‘youthful appearance reaffirms Arturs’ childish mental state that manifests itself even when violence surrounds him. From the playful moment his brother paints a mustache to them until they fill their mouths with candy while in full uniform, Arturs’ childlike innocence endures despite being forced to kill d ‘others to save themselves. In that sense, there isn’t really a strong child-to-man transition despite the painful wounds and tragedies he resists. We witness his arc but we are unaffected by it.
Every “Blizzard of Souls” character, including Private Arturs befriends and romantic interest, suffers from an equally limited construction of their deepest aspirations, patriotic beliefs, or even a backstory. . It makes for a film with lots of small portions that communicate thought-provoking ideas and gripping scrums but without substantial human grounding. “Blizzard of Souls” is on the contrary at its most moving when the title manifests itself in a dreamlike manner, momentarily deviating from realism. At least then we can connect spiritually with Arturs’ sense of oppressive and self-imposed duty.