Mikko Niskanen’s 1962 adaptation of Paavo Rintala’s novel Pojat (The Boys, 1958) deals with the experiences of young boys during wartime and, more specifically, with the difficult subject of Finnish cooperation with the Nazis during the Continuation War leading up to the Lapland War.
The Raksila Boys are a gang of school boys who are growing up in Oulu. Finland has agreed to ally itself with Hitler’s Germany in order to stand any chance of resisting total defeat against the Soviet Union. German soldiers are welcomed to the city and they in turn are friendly towards the locals. Like all boys of their age, the Raksila Boys get up to mischief and are constantly planning some new scheme, such as selling beer to the troops on trains as they pass through the town on their way to the Eastern Front, or supplying German soldiers with extra winter clothing by stealing it from the clothes lines of local residents and in return being paid in cognac and cigarettes. All the while the local school teacher and priest are filling their heads with ideas about heroism and patriotism.
Starting out in a fairly light-hearted tone, the film begins to turn darker and more disturbing. For example, the boys, whose only experience of war is through stories and second-hand information filtered through their elders, make a number of gruesome discoveries of their own that bring the brutal reality of war and death much closer to home. Moreover, personal relationships with German troops and officers begin to affect the lives of the boys.
The final scene at the railway station, where the film also begins, is heart-breaking and accounts in part for the praise for Vesa-Matti Loiri’s performance. Pojat is a delightful and also thoughtful film about childhood and the difficult decisions that must be made in times of war.
2.61GB | 1h 44m | 960×576 | mkv