Thursday, December 03, 2009

Ollin oppivuodet (film concert)

Ollis öden och äventyr / The Apprenticeship of Olli. FI 1920. PC: Osakeyhtiö Suomen Filmikuvaamo. EX: Erkki Karu. D+SC: Teuvo Puro – based on the novel by Anni Swan (1919). DP: Frans Ekebom. AD: Carl Fager. CAST: Jussi Snellman (Olli's father), Ertta Virtamo (Olli's mother), Sirkka Puro (Olli as a little boy), Alfred Idström (Olli as a bigger boy), Eero Kilpi (Kaarle), Mimmi Lähteenoja (Matleena), Erkki Karu (shoemaker Simolin), Aarne Nyman (Ränni-Pelle), Hemmo Kallio (shoemaker Jokela), Ester Henriksson (Hillevi, orphan girl), 1900 m /18 fps/ 92 min [probably the most natural speed], /20 fps/ 83 min, /25 fps/ 66 min. Restored version: KAVA (2008, Tuija Söderman). Projected on Digibeta at 25 fps, with restoration credits 68 min.

Restored in 2008 from archival preservation masters guided by a vintage nitrate screening print. - Restored in 2008 by Tuija Söderman. - Preservation copying by Matti Valtavirta, Tuija Söderman, Pentti Mallinen. - Printed in 2008 by Päivi Hurskainen (Finn-Lab Oy).

Cinema concert at Finlandia Hall, Wednesday, 2 Dec 2009.
A new score composed by Harri Vuori.
Performed by RSO (Radio Symphony Orchestra) with 49 players.
Conductor: Anna-Maria Helsing.

YLE (The Finnish Broadcasting Company) and its RSO launched a magnificent project of new scores by modern composers for old Finnish films with Ollin oppivuodet, the first fiction feature film produced in independent Finland. It is also the oldest Finnish feature film that has survived intact. Ollin oppivuodet was an old-fashioned film even for its time. The contemporary masterpieces from Sweden, Germany, The United States... were a far cry from it. Finnish film production was out of step. Yet Ollin oppivuodet is the foundation stone of an uninterrupted development to the present day in Finland.

Ollin oppivuodet had the gala treatment. The premiere with the new score had already taken place last Friday in Hämeenlinna, and the critics had already praised Harri Vuori's full-blooded, rousing atonal score. The conductor Anna-Maria Helsing had a vigorous grip on the orchestra, while keeping an eye on her stop-watch with an extra large display. Harri Vuori plans an independent orchestral version of his composition. His modern atonal composition deserves full attention independently of the film.

Dr. Anu Juva gave an excellent lecture on music for the silent films before the performance. Finland had a thriving music culture also in the cinemas during the silent era.

After the performance there was a warm reception in the presence of the grandchildren of the director Teuvo Puro, whose daughter Sirkka Puro plays the little Olli.

The film Ollin oppivuodet has multiple symbolic value for the Finnish audience, and with the new score it can experience a revival for new generations.

My criticisms of the performance include the screening from video instead of film, and the projection at the overspeed of 25 fps, which made movement look unnatural.

Despite this it was a warm and engrossing evening.

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