Saturday, April 24, 2010

Auf Wiedersehen Finnland

Auf Wiedersehen Finnland. FI (c) 2010 For Real / ARTE. P: Cilla Werning. D+SC: Virpi Suutari. DP: Heikki Färm. Mostly newly shot with 1944-1945 newsreel footage from Finland and Germany. M: Johanna Juhola, Pekka Kuusisto. S: Olli Huhtanen. ED: Jukka Nykänen. Featuring: Elma, Frans, Roosa, Tertta, Kaisu. 79 min. Released by Kinotar. D-Cinema projection with no subtitles at Tennispalatsi 12, Helsinki, 23 April 2010.

A strong documentary film revealing a secret aspect of the Second World War.

Finns fought with Germany in Operation Barbarossa in 1941-1944 and against Germany in the Lapland War in 1944-1945. There were 200.000 German troops in Lapland, and hundreds of Finnish women followed them. This documentary is their story. For this film, Virpi Suutari has won the confidence of four of the women and one son of a Finnish woman and a German soldier. With great sensitivity and in the nick of time she reveals a secret dimension of history. We follow the whole story from Finnish Lapland to Norwegian Lapland, by the sea to Germany, the devastation of Germany, and the road back to Finland, where the women were very roughly treated. Although this is a documentary film we witness very private, intimate, sensitive, even traumatic scenes.

The films opens new perspectives to familiar topics. There is a Holocaust sequence in this film, powerful via indirection. The women report on their shock at visiting concentration camps. The women also participated in the Allied's screenings of Holocaust documentaries. It was the condition of receiving food stamps. It was not allowed to leave the cinema, turn one's head or close one's eyes. The audiences were shocked, many cried, and some may have lost consciousness. Virpi Suutari incorporates newsreel footage of devastated audiences leaving the cinema.

The quality of the D-Cinema presentation was mainly good, and it was interesting to notice some excellent nature footage, as nature has so far been hard to portray in D-Cinema. The archival footage may have been mastered at a low resolution as it looked needlessly weak especially in slow motion.

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