Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Palava enkeli

Ängel i flammor / Burning Angel. FI (c) 1984 Skandia-Filmi. P: Kaj Holmberg. D: Lauri Törhönen. SC: Hannele Törrönen, Claes Andersson, Lauri Törhönen. DP: Esa Vuorinen - Fujicolor - 1:1,66. AD: Anu Maja. M: Hector. ED: Olli Soinio. S: Johan Hake. Thanks: Nikkilä Hospital, Laakso Hospital, Kellokoski Hospital, Aurora hospital. CAST: Riitta Viiperi (psychiatric nurse Tuulikki Merinen), Eeva Eloranta (Katariina, mental patient), Tom Wentzel (psychiatrist Johan Kukkola, "Juhana"), Juuso Hirvikangas (Mikko, nurse), Elina Hurme (Karin, best friend from the nurse training school), Helena Notkonen (Saimi, patient), Yrjö Pelkonen (Veikko, chauffeur), Marja-Leena Kouki (Maila, nurse), Eeva Mäkinen (Irja, assistant nurse), Hellevi Seiro (Hellevi Härkönen) (Leila, nurse), Vieno Saaristo (Tuulikki's mother), Ritva Arvelo (head nurse), Marjatta Lohikoski (psychologist), Carl Mesterton (chief physician), Annikki Viitala (headmaster of the nurse training school), Jussi Parviainen (man in the discotheque), Ilse Stubbs (assistant nurse), Lasse Lind (colonel, patient), Katja Kiuru, Nina Mattila, Aila Pervonsuo, Tuovi Sundell (patients), Kristiina Kalla (Juhana's girlfriend), Heikki Leppänen, Pauli Tervo (policemen). Raimo Häyrinen (voice of the radio commentator), Heikki Harma (voice of the disc jockey). 105 min. In the presence of Lauri Törhönen, interviewed by Markku Varjola. Vintage print viewed in Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 12 Nov 2008. - Vintage print with good definition of light, good colour, a scratch through the image during the second half of the film. - LT: "This was my feature film debut, although even my school film was a 50 min fiction film. A friend of mine studies psychology and had experience from a mental institution beyond Joensuu, called Paihola [in the film: Kaihola]. There was a true story behind the script, and because of it, legislation was changed [that a nurse can be a patient in her own ward]."
MV: This was new material in Finnish cinema, maybe only in Radio tulee hulluksi [The Radio Goes Crazy] had treated it before, in a comic way. LT: "Variety lauded Riitta Viiperi as the most photogenic Nordic female star since Liv Ullmann. But the film had an unknown director, and it received weird reviews. But then it begun to grow, 7. week was better than the 1. [It became the most popular film of the season]. I myself went to Maxim to see it, head deeply buried in my cap, and behind me there was a strange row of spectator, with a brisk lady in both ends. I then learned that from the Nikkilä mental hospital etc. there were whole groups who came to see the film, and it was also used for on-the-job supervision."
MV: The 1980s was the record decade of debut directors. You opened new paths in production, the American way. LT: "Part of the debut directors never continued beyond the 1980s. Myself, I did more of the artistic stuff for tv, because there, the films always received a million spectators. For the cinemas, it was more about entertainment. Esa Vuorinen was my teacher. [Lauri Törhönen was second assistant director in Warren Beatty's Reds, 1981]. Reds was the craziest adventure on can have, but I learned the American production methods: timetables, shooting schedules, location plans. Riisuminen [The Undressing] I did in 12 shooting days."
MV: What about the technical development. LT: "Esa Vuorinen is a great artist, the finest Nordic cinematographer alive, he has worked a lot in Sweden. Film-making has been compared with a flight to the moon in the complexity of the logistics".
The young nurse Tuulikki (Riitta Viiperi) comes to a mental hospital and is put in charge of an incurably ill patient Katariina (Eeva Eloranta) in the closed ward. Katariina is obsessed with fire, refuses to drink, and has manic outbursts. While there is a masked ball on the other side of the lake, Katariina dresses as an angel, sets herself to fire and drowns in the lake. Shattered, Tuulikki herself is unbalanced and becomes a patient in her own ward. In the final image we see her vanish into the happy crowd of a summer music festival. - Still one of the rare Finnish films that portray psychotherapy in a serious way. There is much that is worthy in the performances of the actors. The cinematography is elegant and consistently expressive. - There would be demand for this film in the dvd market among professionals of psychotherapy.

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