Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mustalaishurmaaja / The Gypsy Charmer (2012 KAVA restoration in 4K)

Zigenarcharmören. FI 1929. PC: Oy Fennica Ab. P: Armas Willamo. D: Valentin Vaala. SC: Theodor Tugai, Valentin Vaala. Cinematography: Aho, Soldan & Co. (Heikki Aho, Björn Soldan). AD+ED: Valentin Vaala, Theodor Tugai. Wigs: Hannes Kuokkanen. C: Theodor Tugai (Manjardo), Meri Hackzell (Esmeralda), Hanna Taini (Akris), Alli Riks (Glafira), Bruno Laurén (Feri), Waldemar Wohlin (Iska), Vladimir Sajkovic. Helsinki premiere: 4.11.1929 Kaleva, Olympia, Scala, distributor: Suomen Biografi Osakeyhtiö - classification: 15921 - S - 60 min

Digitally restored and digitally tinted / toned in 4K by KAVA in 2012. Restoration team: Päivi Hurskainen, Anna Lehto, Jarni Susiluoto, Jani Jäderholm.

The soundtrack selection in the screening: Hungarian gypsy music performed by Sándor Lakatos selected by Jaakko Tervasmäki and Teuvo Tulio for the MTV2 transmission in 1982.

4K screening at Cinema Orion (Teuvo Tulio centenary), 23 August 2012.

A historical viewing: our first 4K feature film restoration screened to an impressed audience, in the presence of many viewers who know the movie well. A job well done, with attention paid to the visual dynamics and to the fine soft detail, and with a refined colour world. Digital restoration at its best. Yet I was contemplating on the fact that I have been watching photochemical film exactly 50 years now and find the digital solidity still a bit uncanny - the fixed quality of the pixels in comparison to the merry frolic of grain on film.

Valentin Vaala (born 11 October 1909) and Theodor Tugai, later known as Teuvo Tulio (born 23 August 1912), were teenagers (19 and 17 years old) when the movie was shot in the spring of 1929. The youthful spirit is still infectious, and there is a winsome ironic approach to the gypsy romantic story in which the whole ensemble is participating.

The gypsy music score was better than I remembered, but the definitive score is the one composed by Yrjö Hjelt for the centenary of the cinema in 1995; let's hope the rights issues will be solved so that Hjelt's engrossing music can be heard again. Although Tulio himself participated in the 1982 gypsy music selection, according to Jaakko Tervasmäki he was not happy with the result.

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