Baltic Tribes, directed by Lauris Abele and Raitis Abele, is neither a narrative drama nor a straightforward documentary. It uses a fictional 13th-century Christian named Lars as a catalyst for a dramatized journey into the culture of the Baltic people, who are considered to be the last pagans of Europe—the final holdouts in a land that was being rapidly Christianized.
This story is told with actors, but no dialogue. Information is supplied through the narrators, one of which is Lars, which gives us the 13th-century Christian perspective on the pagan lifestyle. Other narrators are more objective, one of which sounds a lot like the passionless voice in cheap headphones that guides you through a museum exhibit. As you may have figured out by now, this movie is not unlike one of those History Channel shows with a narrator speaking over recreations of historical events. Before that gets anyone gets excited, the pagans do not convene with aliens.
“…a dramatized journey into the culture of the Baltic people, who are considered to be the last pagans of Europe…”
Setting out to be informative above all else, Baltic Tribes is well done. It’s the kind of educational video that when the TV is rolled into the classroom, and the lights are turned off, the 15-year-old version of you might actually opt to stay awake. The recreations are believable enough, and the visuals—while they can occasionally betray a certain cheapness—are often impressive, regardless of their production value. In other words, the townsfolk don’t instantly look like extras in rugs with some dirt sponged onto their faces.
"…an archeological dig discovered more than two-hundred horses buried around a stone idol."