Saturday, September 25, 2010

Täällä Pohjantähden alla II / Under the North Star II

Under Polstjärnan II / Under the North Star II. FI (c) 2010 Artista Filmi. D: Timo Koivusalo - based on the novels by Väinö Linna (1959-1963). M excerpts include "Äiti armas lastaan tuuti". Starring: Ilkka Koivula (Akseli), Vera Kiiskinen (Elina), Risto Tuorila (Jussi), Ritva Jalonen (Alma), Sampo Sarkola (Vilho Koskela), Reino Nordin (Eero Koskela), Arttu Kurttila (Voitto Koskela), Anna Lipponen (Kaarina Koskela), Lauri Kukkonen (Juhani Koskela), Hannu-Pekka Björkman (the vicar), Jonna Järnefelt (Ellen), Antti Luusuaniemi (Ilmari Salpakari), Esko Roine (Otto Kivivuori), Sara Paavolainen (Anna Kivivuori), Tapani Kalliomäki (Janne Kivivuori), Jarkko Niemi (Jouko Kivivuori), Sulevi Peltola (Preeti Leppänen), Tuula Väänänen (Henna Leppänen), Miia Selin (Aune Leppänen), Aleksi Lavaste (Valtu Leppänen), Ville Virtanen (Rautajärvi), Miina Turunen (Rautajärvi's wife, a teacher), Risto Salmi (Vikki Kivioja), Pekka Huotari (Lauri Kivioja), Aku Hirviniemi (Aulis Kivioja), Janne Hyytiäinen (Arvo Töyry), Juhani Laitala (the master of Yllö), Turkka Mastomäki (Uolevi Yllö), Jukka Leisti (Elias), Jari Salmi (Siukola), Oiva Lohtander (Mellola), Pekka Valkeejärvi (the sheriff), Aimo Räsänen (Lasse), Tom Petäjä (Antti Laurila), Raimo Grönberg (Hellberg), Harri Rantanen (worker), Teemu Lehtilä (lawyer), Rauno Ahonen (the master of the manor), Hannu Kivioja (shopkeeper), Seela Sella (Emma Halme), Martti Suosalo (surveyor), Raija Pipinen (worker's wife), Markku Huhtamo (the judge), Kari Sorvali (army doctor). 138 min. A Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures Finland release with Swedish subtitles by Markus Karjalainen viewed at Bio Rex, 25 Sep 2010

The sequel to Timo Koivusalo's interpretation of Väinö Linna's great novel has received lukewarm reviews but I am very grateful for this film. There have been many high profile drama versions of Linna's novel in the theatres of Finland, and this is obviously a story that is very attractive to actors. Also in this version I enjoyed the interpretations of the actors, so obviously working against the famous roles created by Edvin Laine in his film version 40 years ago. It would be very interesting to see the Laine and Koivusalo versions during the same weekend to appreciate the differences even better.

The biggest difference is the greater prominence given to the women of the story.

The first part of the film climaxed in the terrible Civil War of 1918. The second film moves towards the new white terror of the 1930s when the Finnish extreme right wing attempted a coup inspired by Mussolini and Hitler. Their movement was stopped. The Winter War was the start of the great reconciliation of Finnish society. Timo Koivusalo stages the white terror memorably. The scene where the Koskelas learn about the death of two of their sons in the Winter War is perhaps the most shattering in Finnish literature. Timo Koivusalo rises to the occasion. A bright example among the actors is Anna Lipponen as Kaarina Koskela. The visual quality via digital intermediate is not so hot, and the original music is not very inspired (the best music passage is the "Äiti armas lastaan tuuti" sequence).

I enjoyed the fresh interpretations to the familiar characters and exhanges of dialogue. This story is also an important background to the current discussion about "Finland as the world's best country" (according to Newsweek magazine). It has been a hard way to where we are now.

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