Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Kainuu 39.

Kainuu 1939 - händelser i en avlägsen del av Finland. FI/SE 1979. PC: Sveriges Radio TV-1 SR 1, Jörn Donner Productions Oy. P: Jörn Donner. D+SC: Pirjo Honkasalo, Pekka Lehto. DP: Pertti Mutanen - colour - 16 mm. AD: Jaakko Talaskivi. Cost: Pirjo Honkasalo. M: Heikki Valpola. ED: Pirjo Honkasalo. S: Pekka Lehto. Drawings and maps: Måns Hedström. Cast: Markku Suutari (Vihtori Juhonpoika Suutari), Mauri Matero (Janne Rissanen), Antti Moilanen (Aarne Johannes Kemppainen), Eija Kemppinen (Annu Suutari), Reijo Seppänen (Mikko Korhonen, "Korhos-Mikko", kauppias), Eija Heikkinen (Johanna Juhontytär Suutari). 82 min. A vintage 16 mm print (original format) without subtitles viewed at Cinema Orion (A Tribute to Pirjo Honkasalo), Helsinki, 2 Feb 2011

A remarkable historical film by Honkasalo-Lehto that seen now seems to connect with the current cycle of historical films involving Jörn Donner, especially The Border 1918. There is a fundamental Tolstoyan philosophy of history about the alleged world leaders making decisions while the actual course of events may be profoundly disparate. The approach in Kainuu 39. is Brechtian, mixing documentary, animation, and live enactment. The actors are amateurs, but there is a vital sense of authenticity, as they are a younger generation of the same village performing the lives of their parents' and grandparents' generations. There is a distanciation effect but at the same time a unique sense of reality. The story is a tragedy: at the start of the Winter War on 30 November 1939 the people in the border village in Suomussalmi were neglected to become evacuated. They had to endure three or more months of Soviet rule, and when they were allowed to return, several were executed and punished with prison terms in Finland. A film that helps understand the complexity of history. A film where a wonderful sense of humour prevails in the face of tragedy. A witty film, with a sense of irony, always on the side of the persecuted. The cinematography by Pertti Mutanen seems fine, but the colour in the vintage print is fading. The music by Heikki Valpola is wonderful, and also the sound montage is exciting.

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