Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Meren kasvojen edessä

Inför havets anlete / [In Front of the Face of the Sea]. FI 1926. PC: Komedia-Filmi. P+DP+ED: Kurt Jäger. D+SC: Teuvo Puro - based on the novel by Arvid Mörne (1921). With: Urho Seppälä (Kristoffer, student), Heidi Korhonen (Henrika, Paul's daughter), Axel Slangus (Pauli of Hylkysaari = Wreck Island), Kaarlo Kytö (Pentti, student), Ilmari Unho (Lasse, student), Waldemar Wohlström (the old man), Kerstin Lagus (Renata, Paul's adoptive daughter), Eero Vepsälä (Jaan, a hired hand). 2510 m /22 fps/ 99 min. A print of a new restoration by KAVA (Anna Lehto) viewed at Kino Tulio, 22 Sep 2010

I had seen this film only on vhs in an unreconstructed form before. Now for the first time it made sense. The print has Desmet colour with orange hues and blue for intertitles. (Myself, I prefer black and white. Vintage silent prints were struck from the negative on nitrate stock. That kind of glow is almost impossible to achieve today. But Desmet style tinting is the current trend.)

It is a tragic love story from an island on the high seas. Three sailing students visit the odd outpost called Wreck Island, and Kristoffer falls in love with Henrika. But there is a mystery, and slowly it turns out that Henrika's father Pauli is a scavenger who arranges shipwrecks and collects the loot. The deepest mystery revolves around Renata rescued as a baby from a shipwreck. Growing up Renata had refused to become Pauli's wife...

This is a professionally made film but the storytelling and the direction of actors is uninspired, and one could never tell that this film was made during the most exciting period of silent cinema. But for the lover of Finnish cinema this is a delightful discovery.

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