The Last Ashes is the International Feature submission for Luxembourg. The film begins in Luxembourg in 1838. Under Dutch occupation, and due to war and famine, one quarter of the population has been killed. The Graff family reigns in the north in a remote castle. The people that live there are taken care off, but they are under strict rules and must make sacrifices in order to remain alive. Helene, a young girl, refuses to follow the customs of the castle, so her parents decide to leave despite the risks of the outside world. Immediately after leaving the walls of the fortress, Helene’s parents are killed by the Graff family, and Helene is left for dead.
The film resumes 15 years later. Luxembourg is now free from foreign occupation. The Graff family are still the undisputed leaders of their fortified village, but they’re slowly weakening. And because of that, Helene has decided to return back to the north to exact revenge on the family that destroyed hers. The journey she’s about to experience is nothing like what she could’ve ever imagined.
The fragility of humankind is ever more present in The Last Ashes. Human bodies are mortal. Human bodies are subject to diseases and death. The environments on which humans depend on are always changing. Human societies are subject to inequalities. And we’re never guaranteed a tomorrow. The blessing of moments when our life is threatened is that they are a reminder to make the most of the present and to appreciate the immediacy of its joys. It makes us prioritize to what is most important to us and to let go of what is not.
When everything has been ripped apart from you, as a child, and you’re forced to re-start and re-build your life again from nothing, seeking revenge becomes a form of motivation to be stronger, to be better, to make yourself whole again. Human atrocities has been a part of society since the beginning. For Helene, it’s all she’s ever known. Waiting for the exact moment to seek vengeance for all the death that’s happened to your community becomes the only thing that matters to you. And it becomes a reality that death awaits us all.
By chance we come into this world and afterwards we shall be as if we had never been. When are bodies are extinguished from this earth, our body turns into ashes and the spirit flies away like thin air. We are dust, and to dust we shall return.