Mollberg’s chef d’oeuvre is this remarkable three-hours-plus adaptation of Väino Linna’s The Unknown Soldier, a monumental best-selling novel that has been called the Finnish equivalent of Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front or Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead. An earlier screen version, directed by Edvin Laine and released in 1955, is considered one of the great classics of the Finnish cinema, and was for decades the most commercially successful Finnish film ever made; Mollberg’s version, co- scripted by novelist Linna himself, was twice as expensive as any Finnish feature before it, and was a major critical and commercial success in Finland and elsewhere in Scandinavia. Read More »
“The Earth Is a Sinful Song” is the somewhat misleadingly lyrical title of this film. It is based on a novel set in Finnish Lapland in 1947-48 and concerns itself, in unusually intimate detail, with the lives of the inhabitants of a small, rustic community, and with particular emphasis on one family—an old man, his unhappy son, haggard daughter-in-law and teen-age granddaughter.
One is tempted to call these lives harsh and brutal. But that would be an urban judgment, passed upon people who exist so close to nature that the appearance of an automobile about midway through the film jars a viewer. No, these lives are simply different, stripped almost bare of what we like to call the amenities of civilization. They have no luxuries. Hardship is omnipresent. Death comes among them frequently, taking people and animals. Pleasures are simple—an outdoor dance (where a drifter is killed); drink; religion; the sauna; and sex, indulged in and depicted with a minimum of fuss.
The seasons pass. Lives change. People grow up, grow older, die, are killed, are born. The cycle is ancient and eternal; the landscape is literal paradise and figurative hell. — (The New York Times). Read More »