Thursday, August 19, 2010

Ohjaaja matkalla ihmiseksi - Mikko Niskasen tarina 1-3

[A Director On His Way to Become a Human Being - The Story of Mikko Niskanen 1-3]. FI 2010. PC: Nosferatu. For YLE TV2 Dokumenttiprojekti. P: Ilkka Mertsola. D+SC: Peter von Bagh. Footage from films with Mikko Niskanen as an actor and as a director and from Niskanen's private archive. Interviewees include: Mikko Niskanen, Vesa-Matti Loiri, Veikko Sinisalo, Panu Rajala, Kirsti Wallasvaara, Marja-Leena Mikkola, Jorma Niskanen, Sakari Niskanen, Anna-Leena Härkönen, Tero Jartti, Matti Ijäs, Eero Melasniemi, Kristiina Halkola, Kaj Chydenius, Timo Torikka, Tarja-Tuulikki Tarsala, Aulikki Oksanen, Pekka Autiovuori, Sari Mällinen, Anneli Sauli, Juho Gartz, Pekka Aine, Kari Heiskanen, Markku Lehmuskallio. Colour, 1,33:1, video projection, 3 x 60 min = 180 min. Introduced by Iikka Vehkalahti, Ilkka Mertsola, Peter von Bagh. Press screening at YLE Iso Paja Auditorio, Helsinki, 19 Aug 2010.

Mikko Niskanen (1929-1990), a man of the theatre, of the cinema, and of television, an actor and a director, is one of the great talents in the Finnish cinema history. His masterpiece, The Eight Deadly Shots (1972), is often voted the all time best Finnish film. Myself, I vacillate between Loviisa, The Unknown Soldier, and The Eight Deadly Shots, depending on which one I have seen last. The Eight Deadly Shots is the tragedy of the structural change of Finland. Finland in the 1950s was still a predominantly agrarian country, and urbanization took place fast and traumatically. Mikko Niskanen was the man to portray this story with devastating honesty and dedication, with a sense of humour and tragedy. He discarded the artifice of studio-bound traditions and re-created reality in which people recognized themselves in a profound way.

Peter von Bagh has always had the insight in Mikko Niskanen's talent, and Niskanen authorized him to make a film biography. After a long incubation this biography is now finished in three parts, the first one covering the early years, the second part The Eight Deadly Shots, and the third part the late years. There is not a dull moment in these three hours.

Bagh has gained the confidence of Mikko Niskanen, himself, in filmed interviews, and his family and fellow artists. There is a strong current of emotion from the beginning to the end. Mikko Niskanen was a genius and sometimes an impossible man, and Bagh gives a balanced view of him with warts and all.

Another great film historical tv documentary from Bagh, who is having an especially strong and productive period. No signs of haste in this powerful documentary film with lasting value.

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