How often do we try to judge based on assumptions that may not be true? In The Pit, Latvia’s submission for Best International Feature consideration, there are many assumptions that lead the characters to make judgements that may or may not be justified.
Markuss, a ten year old boy who’s been sent to live with his grandmother after his father’s death, is quiet and sullen. He doesn’t want to be here. He’d rather draw than be with people. As the film opens, he’s left a playmate in a pit. She isn’t found until later that night. This immediately turns the community against Markuss and his grandmother. The girl’s mother is pushing for the boy to be deemed dangerous, based on the pictures he draws. Much of the community’s ideas are based on what they know about Markuss’s father, although we don’t really know much backstory until later—including the backstory of the girl being left in the pit.
In avoiding the judgement of the community (and trying to avoid a beat down from the girl’s brother), Markuss discovers the reclusive Sailor, who lives a bit out of town. Sailor was a friend of Markuss’s grandmother in their youth. It turns out that Sailor makes stained glass windows—or at least is working on one. Markuss’s father was Sailor’s assistant at one point, so Markuss feels a connection, and is soon learning about stained glass. But then Markuss is shocked to discover Sailor’s secret.
Various other secrets are revealed as the story works its way to an ending that may be redemptive for Markuss and the community. Each secret reveals the dark sides of the community that is struggling with its vision of itself in the wake of Markuss’s actions.
The film is a combination of three stories by Latvian author Jana Egles. While we may easily separate out the three stories, the combination of the three create a broader picture of the life of this community. The darkness that seems to define the town is not really based in Markuss, but he seems to be carrying the blame for it. Rather, we learn that Markuss may be the one character who will bring something good to the community.
The Pit is available on Film Movement Plus.
Photos courtesy of Film Movement.