Thursday, December 10, 2009

Tyttö astuu elämään

Tyttö astuu elämään (FI 1943). A red officer (Sasu Haapanen) threatens the lotta Elli Arho (Ansa Ikonen). Photo: KAVI

En flicka i grått / [A Girl in Grey]. FI 1943. PC: Suomen Filmiteollisuus Oy. EX: T. J. Särkkä. D: Orvo Saarikivi. SC: Mika Waltari. DP: Armas Hirvonen. AD: Karl Fager. M: Väinö Haapalainen. ED: Orvo Saarikivi, Armas Vallasvuo. S: Pertti Kuusela, Kurt Vilja.
    CAST: Ansa Ikonen (Elli Arho), Eino Kaipainen (ltn. Arvo Tani), Laila Rihte (Lillukka Koponen), Kyllikki Forssell (Aino Mäkinen), Yrjö Tuominen (director Arho, Elli's father), Ossi Elstelä (draftee Mälli), Eero Eloranta (Veli Arho), Joel Asikainen (Arvi), Sasu Haapanen (Red Army officer), Mervi Järventaus (Maija, collector lotta), Ensio Jouko (colonel), Aino Lohikoski (organizer lotta), Varma Lahtinen (director of the course / the canteen director), Matti Lehtelä (soldier on duty), Veikko Linna (soldier with stubble), Laila Jokimo (dancer).
    Original classification length 2500 m / 91 min. Digibeta on display /25 fps/ 84 min. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 9 Dec 2009.

The first public screening of the film since August 1944.

The film has survived with part of the soundtrack missing (in this screening: from 23 min till 37 min and from 66 min till 75 min).

Tiina Suutala had prepared electronic subtitling for the parts of the film with missing soundtrack, based on the manuscript by Mika Waltari.

The version screened was a short version, self-censored by the production company. Missing from this version:
– the lines of dialogue referring to Suur-Suomi (Greater Finland), common during the enthusiasm of the attack in summer 1941
– president Risto Ryti's radio speech on 26 June 1941
– the episode with the Red Army war prisoners

The film deals with the attack of the Finnish army against the Soviet Union in Summer 1941, as a partner in Hitler's Operation Barbarossa.

The film did not get very positive reviews at the time. However, I was grateful to see it for several reasons.
    1. Ansa Ikonen gives a strong performance as the young graduate girl Elli Arho who grows up during her first summer after school. It is one of Ansa Ikonen's most memorable film roles. She is very moving having barely survived from the attack on the front canteen.
    2. Ossi Elstelä is good as the draftee Mälli. His disappointment with the lack of interest of Elli. His death at the attack on the canteen.
    3. Although this is war propaganda, this film also shows war as hell.
    4. It is interesting to notice the theme of disillusionment in a film that is set in the summer of 1941. Elli: "Nothing feels the same as before". "Maybe we don't have a future. Maybe we were only given these moments". "The dream is over. Thank you for these vanishing days".
    5. The love scene between Elli and Arvo at Elli's home is unusual for a Finnish film of the time. The sense of the brevity of life. The loss of illusions. Elli is probably a virgin, and Arvo probably deflowers her. This we cannot know, but it certainly seems like it. During the summer, Elli becomes a grown-up woman via the experience of death and love.
    6. The final scene is also unusual. Elli and Arvo return to the front and walk silently away from us. (I don't know if the silence is a conscious decision or another case of a missing soundtrack, but silence works perfectly here).

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