Lapmežciems, Ragaciems, Plieņciems, Engure and Bērzciems are the filming sites of movies dedicated to the theme of the sea or having scenes with the sea sceneries. Best known of them are “Zvejnieka dēls” (1939/1940 and 1957), “Nauris” (1957), “Svešiniece ciemā” (1958), “Vētra” (1960), “Nāves ēnā” (1971) and “Ilgais ceļš kāpās” (1981). This area was also the filming site of the short film “Vanadziņš” (1972), musical comedy “Lielais dzintars” (1972) and the fairy-tale film “Sprīdītis” (1985), as well as “Ipolits” (2002) among several television series.
The movie “Zvejnieka dēls” filmed in 1939 by the director Vilis Jānis Lapenieks (1908–1983) and inspired by the novel of Vilis Lācis (1904–1966) is one of the most popular Latvian feature films of all times. The storyline circles around Oskars, the son of the fisherman Kļava, who no longer wants to follow the dictate of his family or carry on the traditional life of fishermen. He dreams of and brings to life the idea of independence of all fishermen from the trade buyer, of an ice cellar and the establishment of a fishermen’s co-operative. The film has love, treachery, colourful fishermen characters and “sticky” music composed by Jānis Mediņš (1890–1966). He composed the song “Jūra krāc un vēji pūš” specifically for the opera singer Rūdolfs Bērziņš (1881–1949). This hit song composed by Jānis Mediņš was later sung by nearly every fisherman in the Gulf of Riga and every philistine in pubs of Riga, but in its entirety it was only known by Plieņu village and Rūdolfs Bērziņš.
This film has immortalised the Lapmežciems dune, which Anita was climbing up with her pendant — a foam man — on a chain around her neck. Filming also took place in Ragaciems, Plieņciems, Majori, Ķekava, Vecāķi, Buļļuciems, Pape, Nida and elsewhere. The film was screened in the winter of 1940 in Riga’s movie theatres “Splendid Palace” and “Daina” with long queues forming outside. In two months, around 250,000 people saw the movie in Latvia. In Kaunas, “Zvejnieka dēls” turned into a demonstration of national friendship between Lithuania and Latvia. Screenings in Estonia, Finland and the Czech Republic were equally successful.
“Zvejnieka dēls” was re-filmed again in the Soviet times. Varis Krūmiņš (1931–2004) was the director of the film, but the actor Eduards Pāvuls was chosen to play the role of Oskars from among several candidates. Filming started in August 1956 and took place in Klapkalnciems, Ragaciems, Plieņciems and Engure, while the forests of Kurzeme and the lake were filmed near Cēsis and near Lake Āraiši. In Ragaciems, the tavern scene was filmed; there, in mass scenes, many locals of Klapkalnciems can be spotted, whereas in Bigauņciems, in the pine tree valley beyond the dunes, a prop building with one room was built, which looked like a real house from the filming viewpoint — this was where the accidental encounter between Oskars and Anita on the way home took place. The scene was filmed many times — the women and children of Bigauņciems still remember the shooting.
The film “Svešiniece ciemā” (director A. Neretniece) tells about fishermen’s lives, too. This was the début of the actor Gunārs Cilinskis (1931–1992), who played the fisherman Jānis, but the stranger, the young wife of Jānis, was played by Vija Artmane (1929–2008). The storyline revolves around the fisherman Jānis, who returns to the village with his new wife Elza, and not even his father and mother know about it. It also turns out that the new wife is also the director of the fish processing plant. Elza was not welcomed by either the husband’s family or the villagers. Only with patients and resilience Elza manages to earn the love of her in-laws and to improve the work of the plant.
The movie was shot in Lapmežciems. The view from the sea to the village and the bridge can be clearly seen in it. The Klapkalnciems fish factory was used to shoot the scenes of the Fish Processing Plant. The scene shows the arms of workers, but the faces were those of actresses. The première of the film took place in 1957 at the newly opened Lapmežciems Culture Centre.
The story of the film “Nauris” revolves around Nauris, who lives with his little sister and grandfather Upmalis (Luijs Šmits, 1907–1985) in a small seaside village. Nauris finds out about the burglary of the school, which was done by his grandfather together with Lazdāns (Bernhards Priedītis). To protect his grandfather, Nauris secretly takes the stolen goods back to school, thus causing suspicion against himself. The defence of Nauris are undertaken by his school mates.
During the filming, the actor playing Nauris — Haralds Ritenbergs — was doing somersaults, riding horses and crashing with the train. The suicide scene was filmed at the Sigulda station. The scene where the wall was blown up was filmed in Bigauņciems. In fact, the tall wall seen in the film was a fragment of a low foundation wall of an old building. Back then, the handsome actor playing Nauris in the film H. Ritenbergs was the idol of many young girls, and during the filming, the girls spent a lot of time at the shooting site wrapped in warm clothing by their mothers.
The film “Vētra” was made in 1960 inspired by the novel of the same title by V. Lācis, book 1. Its directors were Rolands Kalniņš (1922) and V. Krūmiņš, protagonists played by V. Artmane and V. Zandbergs. The film tells about underground communist activities in 1939 and 1940, the toppling of Latvian government and release of political prisoners. A romantic string winding through the story is the love between the actress Māra Vilde and Kārlis Žuburs. The film’s scenes near the sea were shot in Lapmežciems by the Siliņupe stream. This was where the beautiful bend on the road before the bridge was filmed from the Lapmežciems highway. In the film, a meeting between underground activists took place next to the so-called Zante pines (“Sant” from the Liv language meaning “poor”), and this is where the radio technician rushed down on a motorbike, blonde hair blowing in the wind (Ansis Kreicbergs). Even though the title of the film is “Vētra” (The Storm), it did not cause a storm among the audiences.
In 1971, the film “Nāves ēnā” was made at the Riga Film Studio. The film is based on a novella of the same title by Rūdolfs Blaumanis (1863–1908). The main director was Gunārs Piesis (1931–1996), and this was his second feature film. The main protagonists were played by Eduards Pāvuls, Alfrēds Videnieks, Gunārs Cilinskis, Ģirts Jakovļevs, Kārlis Sebris, Vaironis Jakāns etc. The storyline revolves around fishermen who are stranded on a chunk of ice and float out into the sea, but then a boat shows up, however there is not enough room in it. Somebody must stay and perish...
The filming was very difficult, because they could not rely on natural ice, therefore they built a large platform out of planks, which was then covered with plastic resin to create the effect of snow and ice. The sea froze over only in late February, and the filming lasted until May. The filming took place in Lapmežciems, Ragaciems, Bērzciems. Scenes with the artificial ice were shot near Starpiņupe. Local residents remembered the artificial ice pieces strewn on the beach for a long time.
Adults and younger residents of Lapmežciems were involved in the filming. The costumes were held at the small hall of the Culture Centre, and this was where they changed into their costumes. The costumes were also given by the locals, so Pēteris Legzdiņš gave his fur coat that he did not like himself (though his wife was not particularly glad about it). The school student Dainis Pētersons played the child who announced the disaster and gathered everyone. The Estonian, who rescued to unfortunate fishermen and said that only five of them can go in the boat, was played by the army mate of E. Pāvuls — Otomārs Kalpiņš. The filming was also done from the Ragaciems lighthouse, where Helmuts Lūsis was the supervisor.
In 1972, the short “Vanadziņš” was filmed here based on a story of the same title by V. Lācis. The protagonists of the film are the young boy Vanadziņš (Ainārs Gailis) and his father (Daumants Milgrāvis). The film tells about a young boy, who his father calls Vanadziņš, and about his father is a fisherman. While his father was at sea, the boy stayed at home with a cat, and together they awaited the father back home from the sea, but one night, father no longer returned. The film was shot in Lapmežciems in “Stiebri”, a house near the highway (also called “Rungaiņi”) on the forest side.
In 1972, scenes were also shot in Lapmežciems for the two-episode musical comedy “Lielais dzintars” which was made at the Riga Film Studio on the orders of the USSR Central Television. The director of the film was A. Brenčs. The comedy is based around a group of musicians who due to weather preventing them from flying could not arrive in Riga on time for a song competition. The first place was not awarded to anyone, but the young musicians were so certain of their victory that they were doing everything that is possible to gather together all jury members for a repeat audition. The organisation was complicated by the jealously of the soloist Maiga towards the competition jury secretary Žermēna Pavlovna, who was actively helping her groom Arvīds together with the rest of the ensemble to find her colleagues. By dividing into two search parties, they managed to be in Sigulda at the ballroom competition and in the fishermen’s festivities. The views of the festivities were filmed in Lapmežciems. The chairman of the collective fishing farm “Selga” Dainis Bušs and the chairman of the collective fishing farm “Uzvara” Ilgonis Bumburs were also involved, and during the festivities they gifted a large salmon to each other. After the programme, a large whale came out of the sea (and later on it stayed there for a long time).
Many scenes of the film “Ilgais ceļš kāpās” (director Aloizs Brenčs) were also filmed here. It appears that this is the film that the locals of Lapmežciems have most memories about, because this is where many scenes were shot. It was Ragaciems where the house stood in which the elder of the parish Jēkabs Ozols (E. Pāvuls) lived; this was where the fish processing plant was filmed, boats burnt and the party scene was shot. Nearly half of the residents of the village took part in the making of the film. Actors often walked through the village in the same defenders’ costumes, which caused worries in some locals. Boys from the Lapmežciems dance group were playing the soldiers.
Some scenes were also filmed in Bigauņciems, but the fight between Artūrs and the defenders was filmed in Apšuciems. The wedding scene was filmed in Lapmežciems, in “Ķesteri” household. The roles of the young couple were played by Pauls Butkēvičs and Ruta Vītiņa, but the bridesmaid’s role was awarded to the director of the Culture Centre of Lapmežciems Ligita Balode, who remembers that she was having a day off and was doing laundry, when suddenly A. Brenčs called and requested her to go over to choose a costume and put on make-up. So, Ligita leaned back against a pine tree and the make-up artist did her face. The director thought that was good enough and ordered her to be the bridesmaid. The wedding scenes were shot for two days; tables were brought outside, and the bottles for people in mass scenes were filled up with water. All people in mass scenes were dancing in the wedding. Everyone received seven roubles per day for taking part in the filming. When the first two episodes were shot, they were shown at the Lapmežciems Culture Centre. The viewers’ interest was enormous.
In 1985, the fairy-tale film “Sprīdītis” was shot here. The house of the Stingy (Sīkstulis) was filmed in Lapmežciems — it was the dilapidated ruins in Lapmežciems opposite the “Laivenieki” household.
A more recent film that was made in 2002 in Ragaciems is the film “Ipolits” by the director Jānis Streičs. Main roles were played by Katrīna Pasternaka (1957), Juris Kalniņš (1952), Artis Robežnieks (1970) and Viktorija Streiča (1979). The film was a family drama with a love triangle — a mother, a daughter and a son-in-law — in the centre of it. Back then Tekla Šaitere wrote about the movie in the making: “... when I travelled to Ragaciems to prepare material for the paper, at the movie set I did not even get a chance to talk with Juris or Katrīna, because a big dark cloud was descending, and they had to rush to finish the scene, and after all — this film was not the typical “stretching of the rubber” (procrastination) so typical of movie people back in the Soviet times. At the movie set — in the yard under the oak-tree — the ambience was tense; sometimes the mood of the group balanced on the border between tears and mad anger.” Filming lasted from nine till nine, because they only had five days for filming.
Contact informationBigauņciems, Lapmežciems, Ragaciems, Klapkalnciems, Apšuciems, Engure, Tukums region