Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Muukalainen / The Visitor

Främlingen / Der Besucher / Külaline. FI/DE/EE/GB 2009 © 2008 blueLight, Helsinki-Film [and two other companies]. P: Aleksi Bardy, Alain de la Mata. D: Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää. SC: Jan Forsström, Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää. DP: Tuomi Hutri - digital intermediate: Head-Quarter. PD: Kaisa Mäkinen. M: Helena Tulve. FX: Armin Altorf, Kalju Kivi. COST: Sari Suominen, Tarja Westman. Makeup: Kairit Nieländer. S: Micke Nyström, Sami Sarhamaa, Rolando Camilo. ED: Mervi Junkkonen. CAST: Vitali Bobrov (the son), Emilia Ikäheimo (the mother), Pavel Liska (the visitor), Jorma Tommila (the father). In Finnish, but there is hardly any dialogue. Colour, 1,85:1, 106 min. Released by Sandrew. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 21 Dec 2009.

A diploma work from The Department of Motion Picture, Television, and Production Design of The University of Art and Design Helsinki (TAIK / ELO).

Jukka-Pekka Valkeapää in his debut cinema feature film displays talent. He is an artist whose next film I look forward to.

There is an intensity and a command of the elements of cinematography, sound and music, landscape and art direction, and the performance of the actors.

Valkeapää denies that the film would be an homage, but the affinities is evident. 1) The child's viewpoint to the mystery of the grown-ups' life reminds me of Víctor Erice. 2) The imagery is Tarkovskyan.

Tarkovskyan aspects in Muukalainen: 1) the fundamental feeling for "zapetshatlyonnaya vremya" (the name of Tarkovsky's manuscript, which was published in English as Sculpting in Time, in German as Die versiegelte Zeit, in Finnish as Vangittu aika), 2) the building (it is a set), the walls, the objects marked by time, 3) even the purposefully faded colours remind us of of the imperfect Sovcolor of many Tarkovsky prints (but if you see them in good prints, they look different), 4) the abandoned rails, the crippled mother and the mute or silent son remind us of Stalker, 5) the shots of the mother at the fence and the stranger coming towards us from the forest remind us of the most powerful scene in The Mirror, 6) the horses.

It is impossible for me to make sense of the story at a first viewing. If it is supposed to take place in Finland, then it would maybe take place in the 1920s (I have to check again about the bus and the policemen's uniforms for that). The father could be a member of contraband (we had prohibition then) who has hidden his stash in the abandoned well, confided this to his mute son, and promised shelter for the accomplice, the visitor / the stranger of the film's title. The father may also be a wife-beater who has crippled his wife.

The film is needlessly enigmatic. In a Víctor Erice film the mysteries stem from the circumstances of the Franco dictatorship. In Tarkovsky's The Mirror and Stalker we are dealing with the repression in the Soviet Union. The mystery in Muukalainen is pointless.

1 comment:

Siru said...

The Visitor (which I saw in Sodankylä Film Festival tent last June) is the most beautiful Finnish film I've seen. It does not explain too much which is refreshing.

I'm prophesying that this film's merits will stand up to the ravages of time.

P.S. I've never liked Tarkovski's films (yes, I know that film buffs shouldn't say that aloud). What makes The Visitor different is that it's not boring.