|Sirkka Sari, Olavi Reimas|
35 mm safety print viewed at 15.00.
2K DCP (KAVA 2012) viewed at 17.00.
Cinema Orion, Helsinki (KAVI Digitizes), 12 Feb 2014
Sysmäläinen was scanned at 2K at KAVA. Restoration and colour definition: Cinepro / Petri Siitonen. The post was conducted via DigitalVision's Phoenix programme. The sound was digitized and restored at KAVI.
A key Valentin Vaala film. The cross-dressing theme is not a superficial joke but as profound as it can get. "I am going to make him love me as a human being, first then as a woman". This was a surprising, bold, and frank approach in the 1930s, when reactionary trends were very powerful in Finland.
There is in the concept something of the approach of William Shakespeare (Twelfth Night, etc.), and in the execution something of George Cukor (Sylvia Scarlett), but the outcome falls short of such ambitions, and as for the performances, they are spirited, but one can imagine what Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn would have achieved.
A period comedy set in 1622-1637. The male protagonist, the man from Sysmä, is the fool who always fails to recognize the female protagonist in her many disguises, dressing as a man, and then as a man dressing as woman.
Last time I liked it more. But I still like the good taste in Vaala's way in the sometimes risqué dialogue and daring situations (sharing a bed without the man recognizing his wife). Vaala was so much ahead of his time that nobody sensed any offense. As it should be.
It was baffling to see the 35 mm print and the 2K DCP after one another. Firstly, there was the revelation that there are no two versions of different lengths, but apparently only one with a duration of 83 min. Secondly, the 35 mm film print was not as brilliant as I remembered, although it conveys the idea of the spellbound quality of the cinematography. But part of the image is soft, not evenly timed.
Sysmäläinen is a fairy-tale, Shakespearean in the sense that it takes place in an enchanted space like A Midsummer Night's Dream. Transformations occur, revelations take place, eyes are closed and then opened. It is not realistic.
The 2K DCP is a sober analysis of the cinematography, expertly conducted, the image and the sound corrected and balanced in many ways. One can appreciate the beautiful composition, and there is a sense of the fine nuance in the definition of light, but one can see the limitations of 2K in the nature footage. The 2K DCP is admirably clean and bright, but the 35 mm print conveys the magic quality more profoundly. I am grateful for Petteri Kalliomäki for the concept "magic" here.