This is the story of a girl, Martha, whose brother, Mai, possesses a unique gift, he can find buried treasures. But it makes him very ill, and Martha prefers to live in poverty rather than make her little brother suffer. However, not everybody is just as concerned about Mai's wellbeing, and one Christmas, Mai is kidnapped. Martha decides to search for her brother, and her story begins. On the way, she meets a genius inventor, Orlando, and they travel together meeting various people, and most of these encounters threaten disaster to Martha and Orlando.
This is, indeed, a dark fantasy. Yet it is extremely, breath-takingly poignant and poetic. It has a great score by Alfred Shnitke, and the music heightens the emotional impact of the film. I was a child when the film came out, and I was utterly captivated. Yes, it is scary, but the poignancy of the film far outweighed the scary bits for me. Even though it is essentially a fantasy film, the characters are more complex than in most "real life" dramas. They are sometimes likable, sometimes exasperating, and always human (that does not include the Plague who does make an unforgettable impression, not for the faint of heart for sure). An excellent film overall.
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