Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Milka

Milka - elokuva tabuista / Milka eller balladen om Kristus Perkele / Milka - A Film About Taboos. FI 1980. PC: Arctic Filmi Oy. P+D: Rauni Mollberg. Ass D: Veikko Aaltonen. SC: Rauni Mollberg, Jussi Niilekselä, Seppo Heinonen, Veikko Aaltonen - based on the novel Tabu (1965) by Timo K. Mukka. DP: Esa Vuorinen, Markku Lehmuskallio. M: Kari Rydman. AD: Seppo Heinonen. S: Johan Hake. ED: Tuula Mehtonen. Cast: Irma Huntus (Milka Sierkkiniemi), Leena Suomu (Anna Sierkkiniemi), Matti Turunen (Ojanen, "Kristus Perkele"), Eikka Lehtonen (kanttori = the church organist), Esa Niemeli (Auno). 109 min. A new KAVA print (2009) without subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Rauni Mollberg), 26 May 2010.

Revisited Rauni Mollberg's second film based on the novel by the Laplander writer and artist Timo K. Mukka (1944-1973). Where Maa on syntinen laulu (The Earth Is a Sinful Song) was shocking, Milka is lyrical. It is the coming-of-age story of the 14-year-old Laplander maid Milka. Her father has died, and she lives with her mother, the tender and loving Anna. They have a piece of land, hayfield and wood, keep some cows, and Anna weaves carpets.The carpenter and lumberjack Ojanen, called Kristus Perkele (Christ Devil), helps them with farming and building tasks. A virile man, he caters also to the needs of lonesome women in the neighbourhood. He visits Anna without commitment. He refuses the advances of the underage Milka, but after a year, when Milka has grown up to womanhood, he doesn't resist Milka's offers anymore. When the restless wanderer Ojanen moves on, Anna is almost paralyzed with depression, and then it is found out that Milka is pregnant (nobody has told her about the facts of life). Towards the end there is Milka's long dream and nightmare sequence during childbirth. A healthy baby boy is born.

I hadn't seen this film on screen since the first run almost 30 years ago. Milka was better than I remembered. I had the remembrance of some embarrassment with Molle's naturalism and the lingering doubt that the young Irma Huntus may have been exploited. I wish her well, and she can be proud of her contribution in this frank film. The cinematography (Esa Vuorinen, Markku Lehmuskallio) is breathtaking, the music (Kari Rydman) is lyrical and original, the dialogue is stylized, and the film is art, not exploitation.

The cinematography of Milka is one of the most beautiful in the history of Finnish cinema. It is an anthology of the light and colour of Lapland, the glory of the four seasons: the hayfield, swimming in the river, rain in the forest, light filtering in the haybarn, rowing the hayboat across the river, the night fog, the swamp full of cloudberries, the ruska (the autumn colours of Lapland), the steam and the vapour from the sauna, the kaamos (the sunless period of the Far North), the church at Christmas, the blue hour, playing in the snowy forest, the lumberjacks at work, the frozen waterfalls, the wood grouse on soidin (display, mating season), the frozen river. Milka can be watched as pure cinematography.

The excellent new print pays justice to the fine soft detail and colour. It was interesting to examine how objects do not look sharp in the dazzling midnight sun. Everything becomes brilliant and heightened but not sharp. Milka would be a perfect test object for the photochemical / digital comparison.

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