Saturday, November 07, 2009

Veikko Huovinen and the Forest (seminar)

A tribute to Veikko Huovinen at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 6 Nov 2009.
Together with the Veikko Huovinen Society, as a part of the Metsäpäivät (The Forest Days).
Together with Metsähallitus (The Finnish Forest Administration), bringing to finish our celebration of their 150th Anniversary. The curator of the special series was Tuulikki Halla.

Veikko Huovinen (b. 7 May 1927, d. 4 October 2009, Sotkamo) was to be the guest of honour, himself. In August we got word from him that his presence should not be announced. After a quick and devastating illness he died in early October.

The main speaker was Asko Alanen, my brother, an avid Veikko Huovinen reader since childhood. He spoke about the cinema and television adaptations based on the work of Veikko Huovinen. The first cinema film, Lampaansyöjät [Mutton Eaters] was a disappointment, but the second one, Koirankynnen leikkaaja [Dog Nail Clipper] hit the bull's eye. The third one, Havukka-Ahon ajattelija [The Thinker from the Hawk Meadow] [sorry about the terrible direct translations], on Huovinen's signature protagonist Konsta Pylkkänen, is forthcoming in a few months.

On tv, Veikko Huovinen has been quite well treated, thanks to the inspired direction of Pauli Virtanen and the insight of Heikki Kinnunen as the spirit of Huovinen and also as Konsta Pylkkänen.

The tv miniseries Havukka-ahon ajattelija (1971), Hamsterit (1982), Veikko Huovisen lyhyet erikoiset (1984-1986), Lentsu (1990), and Konstan Pylkkerö (1994) have all been worthy, and the four last-mentioned have been coincidentally published on dvd this year.

Asko emphasized with insight the great question of language. Veikko Huovinen's stories are language-driven, and Pauli Virtanen, for instance, has met the challenge successfully, acknowledging the primacy of the word.

Because of the emphasis on language, Veikko Huovinen belongs to the hidden treasures of Finnish culture. His sense of humour is of the kind that can launch incredible fits of laughter, but only in Finnish.

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