Friday, January 15, 2010

Havukka-ahon ajattelija

[Konsta (name of the novel in translation)]. FI (c) 2009 Matila Röhr Productions. P: Marko Röhr, Mikko Tenhunen. D+SC: Kari Väänänen - based on the novel by Veikko Huovinen (1952). DP: Timo Salminen -colour. Aerial camera operator red stab c: Peter Degerfeldt. Digital intermediate 2K: Generator Post. AD: Markku Pätilä. COST: Johanna Heikkilä. Make-up: Terhi Väänänen. M: Pessi Levanto. S: Jyrki Rahkonen. ED: Benjamin Mercer. LOC: Kuhmo. CAST: Kai Lehtinen (Konsta Pylkkänen), Ilkka Heiskanen (Mooses Pessi), Hannu-Pekka Björkman (Magister Ojala), Tommi Korpela (Magister Kronberg), Konsta Pöyliö (little Nikke from Havukka), Vesa Vierikko (Ooke Iso-Kilpukka), Aake Kalliala (Kuoliaaksinaurattaja [= the one who can make you die of laughter]), Kati Outinen (Kuoliaaksinaurattajan tytär [= the daughter of the one who can make you die of laughter]), Juhani Niemelä (master of the house of Ukonkuivuuvaara), Maria Aro (mistress of the house of Ukonkuivuuvaara), Kari Väänänen (Severi). 110 min. A Nordisk Film release, print without subtitles, viewed at Kinopalatsi 1, Helsinki, 15 Jan 2010 (day of the Helsinki premiere; the national premiere was some weeks earlier in cities of the North)

Obviously from a digital intermediate. There is a loss of natural feeling of colour and fine soft detail.

Veikko Huovinen's Havukka-ahon ajattelija is one of the most beloved Finnish novels, and Kari Väänänen has succeeded in his interpretation very well. The film is faithful to the novel. The main arrangement is that the role of Little Nikke has been expanded, and Konsta's long monologues have been turned into dialogues between Konsta and Nikke.

Veikko Huovinen has inspired Kari Väänänen to create a humoristic, pantheistic film that is set in the forests of Kuhmo, in the region of Kainuu, in Eastern Finland. The strong feeling for nature is one of the most appealing things in this film.

The character of Konsta Pylkkänen belongs to the lumberjack tradition of the Finnish literature and cinema. But Konsta is completely original. He is a slightly eccentric character. He is an expert lumberjack, forester, hunter, and fisher. He knows the nature very well. He is also a philosopher and raconteur who likes to contemplate the mysteries of the universe. Väänänen brings the dimensions of the microcosmos and the macrocosmos to the story in humoristic special sequences and dream sequences.

The actors are first-rate and authentic in their roles from the viewpoint of a Helsinki-dweller.

One omission I regret. The story takes place in the late 1940s or the early 1950s, and Konsta is deeply concerned about the nuclear catastrophe. This theme, organic to the novel and to the work of the committed pacifist Veikko Huovinen, is missing from the film. Also the episode with Konsta planning a nuclear shelter in the caves has been omitted. And the detail of Kronberg's missing finger (lost during the war).

The name of the novel and the film is untranslatable, but a clumsy literal translation would be "The Thinker from Hawk Meadow". The theme of the hawk is central. "The thought is free as a hawk" is one of Konsta's mottoes. The sense of freedom and of the widening of perspectives is conveyed visually in the film via magnificent aerial views (but presented with lossy digital compression).

I predict that this film will become an evergreen in Finland. For the non-Finnish viewer it can be warmly recommended, with the reservation that the film is language-driven. Almost every sentence is language gravy, impossible to translate.

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