Saturday, February 05, 2011

Tuntematon emäntä / [The Unknown Farm Mistress]

Den okända bondkvinnan. FI 2011. PC: Kinosto Oy. P: Taru Mäkelä, Jouko Seppälä. D+SC: Elina Kivihalme. DP: Jouko Seppälä - shot on HDV with a Sony EZ-1 camera, archival footage in SD quality - 35 mm prints struck from the DCP in Denmark. Post Control: Marko Terävä, Sami Haartemo, Juho Räsänen. M: Miro Mantere, Anne Seppänen. S: Anne Tolkkinen. ED: Tuuli Kuittinen. Readers of letters: Pirkko Hämäläinen, Seppo Pääkkönen. Featuring: Alli Toivari, Pentti Ojaniemi, Onerva Hintikka, Anna-Liisa Salmioja, Eeva Jalo, Leena Posti-Ahokas, Anna-Kaarina Jaakkola, Märtha Kevin, Sirkka Nukari, Sirkka Lauerma, Sointu Talvitie. 79 min. Distributed by Pirkanmaan Elokuvakeskus, in Finnish, with one of the interviewees in Swedish, with Swedish / Finnish subtitles by Sophia Beckman-de la Riva / Anitra Paukkula. A 35 mm print viewed at Kinopalatsi 6, Helsinki, 5 Feb 2011 (premiere weekend).

A big unknown area of the WWII experience in Finland in 1939-1944 finally discussed in a film directed by Elina Kivihalme, stemming from the experiences of her own family. Finland was an agrarian country, and while the men were on the front, women did double duty on the farms and elsewhere for five years. Without them, survival would have been impossible. The war veterans are acknowledged every year, the home front women hardly ever. There is a warm feeling of empathy in the 11 interviews which form the foundation of this picture. There is vintage newsreel footage, too, and 8 mm home movies. Letters of wartime correspondence are read by the actors Pirkko Hämäläinen and Seppo Pääkkönen. The film covers a lot of territory, from Karelia to Porkkala and to Lapland. When the men finally returned home, the final jolt was sometimes that they were profoundly changed, psychically wounded, in a time when neurological problems were little known. It was considered improper to get a divorce when the man returning from the war was psychologically changed. Women were supposed to stay silent about the war, there was a culture of silence, and never any acknowledgement. The film is beautifully shot in natural light, with an understanding of the expressive beauty of the human face, and the archival footage has been treated with respect, including scanning in the correct aspect ratio.

No comments: