Finland

Nyrki Tapiovaara & Hugo Hytönen – Miehen tie AKA One Man’s Fate (1940)

The fifth and last film of Nyrki Tapiovaara (1911–40), released posthumously after his tragically premature death during the last days of the Winter War, and finished by one of the film’s actors, Hugo Hytönen, with some help from Erik Blomberg and Mirjami Kuosmanen, future collaborators on The White Reindeer. As with Tapiovaara’s earlier films Stolen Death (1938) and Kaksi Vihtoria (“Two Henpecked Husbands”, 1939), Blomberg was the film’s producer and cinematographer, while Kuosmanen had one of her first major roles in the film. The film was an adaptation of recent Nobel laureate F. E. Sillanpää’s 1932 novel and, along with Teuvo Tulio’s rural melodramas of the late ’30s (including one Sillanpää adaptation, the now-lost Nuorena nukkunut), one of the crucial trope-setters for Finnish cinema in the years to come, with its depictions of breathtaking landscapes, love on the hayfield, and drunken brawls at country dances. Read More »

Mikko Niskanen – Kahdeksan surmanluotia AKA Eight deadly shots (1972)

IMDB Plot Summary
Small-farmer Pasi shoots four policemen who have come to arrest him for raged drunkenness. Rest of the movie is a long flashback examining the events that finally leads to the tragic shooting. As time goes by, Pasi sinks gradually deeper and deeper into the poverty, gets into trouble with both police and tax officials while family arguments grow more and more serious. Based on a true story. Read More »

Nyrki Tapiovaara – Varastettu kuolema AKA Stolen Death [Director’s Cut] (1938)

A thriller set in turn-of-the-century Helsinki, Stolen Death uses elements of German expressionism to tell the story of Finnish resistance fighters smuggling arms to overthrow the Tsarist occupiers of Finland. Tapiovaara stresses the divided loyalties of the Finnish bourgeoisie, torn between preserving their privileged economic position and taking a risky stand for an independent Finland. Read More »

Teuvo Puro – Noidan kirot AKA The Curses of the Witch (1927)

A customized rip of this 1927 silent classic from the Suomi-Filmi studio. Often referred to as the first Finnish horror film, though the 1923 historical drama made at the same studio, Rautakylän vanha parooni (“The Old Baron of Rautakylä”), can also be classified as Gothic horror. What is more, the horror elements in The Curses of the Witch are few and far between, but all the more effective for that: the interposed image of a raving Lapp witch, the ominous owl foreboding the nerve-wracking and fateful boat ride, and the strange furry demon that appears on the hero’s bedside after it are as unforgettable as anything the best of Swedish or Danish horror films of the time had to offer. Read More »

Jack Witikka – Aila – Pohjolan tytär AKA Arctic Fury (1951)

A precursor of sorts to The White Reindeer (1952), featuring the same female lead, Mirjami Kuosmanen, and the same cinematographer, Erik Blomberg, who was Kuosmanen’s husband and went on to direct as well as shoot the later film. Disappointment in this film was one of the reasons that led Blomberg and Kuosmanen to make The White Reindeer as an independent production. The film’s nominal producer was Michael Powell, but in fact the production was supervised by John Seabourne (for some reason billed “Jussi” Seabourne in the opening credits), a close friend of Powell’s and the editor of many of the Powell & Pressburger classics of the 1940s. Read More »

Mika Kaurismäki – Cha Cha Cha (1989)

Quote:
A lawyer pays a visit to Matti Ojanperä (Matti Pellonpää), a bum living under a bridge in the Helsinki harbour, to inform him that he is about to inherit an American aunt of his. The sum 1,000,000 Fmk would be his, if only he meets the qualifications set by his aunt.

He must show that he is capable of ‘living properly’ and possessing a ‘respectable occupation and a family he can support’. Otherwise the money would go to a foundation the chairman of which the lawyer himself happens to be! Read More »

Peter von Bagh – Helsinki, ikuisesti AKA Helsinki, Forever (2008)

Probably writer-director Peter von Bagh’s masterpiece in the documentary genre, a personal love letter to the city of Helsinki as it once was and as it might have been, taking the form of a collage of film clips, photographs, paintings, song and music fragments, quotations from Finnish writers and von Bagh’s own musings, read by himself and the actors Erja Manto and Sulevi Peltola. A real treat, not to be missed by any fan of Finnish cinema or the “city symphony” genre. Read More »