Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is / [Ice]

Jäätä / Das Eis. TVM. SE / DE / FI 1972. PC: YLE, Sveriges Radio TV2, NDR – Norddeutscher Rundfunk. P: Leif Käll. PC: Conny Jydin. D: Åke Lindman. SC: Clas Engström based on his novel (1961). DP: Kimmo Simula, Gunnar Fischer - colour. Production manager: Tuula Sid. AD: Aimo Pöyhönen. ED: Pipsa Valavaara. S: Veijo Lehti. CAST: Stephan Schwartz, Tord Pettersson (Valter), Roland Hedlund (Vilhelm), Tommy Jonsson (Karl), Eddie Axberg (Anders), Ulf Gotenstam (Martin), Stephan Gotenstam (Johannes), Ulla Blomstrand (Alma), Marianne Johansson (Karin). 110 min. In Swedish, with some German, with Finnish subtitles by Risto Säämänen. Digibeta from YLE viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 28 Oct 2009.

A stark and authentic account on mail transport on the Baltic Sea in the winter. A period film that takes place in January 1830. The winter was exceptionally hard around Gotland.

Six men transport the mail with a boat that they mostly need to haul across the ice, but they need it to cross the water when there is open sea. Two of the youngest perish, and the four survivors fight the hunger, the cold, and the wind, and they start to hallucinate.

The film gets stronger towards the end. The youngest survivor accuses the others for framing his father for a theft of nets. At the point of exhaustion they see the shore but slowly they realize that they returned to where they started. Valter stays with the mail while the others bring help. The last image is an extreme close-up of Valter's face, with a wood brick between his teeth, as his frozen leg gets amputated with a saw.

There are memory flashbacks of summer and women, including Valter's wife, who warns her husband of taking the assignment of winter mail delivery. The imagery is stark, with Gunnar Fischer, the cinematographer of Wild Strawberries and The Seventh Seal. There is variety in the colour scale: the blend of orange, red, and yellow on sunny days - the blue shadows - the grayness of certain days - and the black nights.

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