Thursday, September 09, 2010

La caduta degli dei

Six important events simultaneously, and I decided to catch three of them.

The Under a Cinematic Sky – 25 years of films in Sodankylä photo exhibition was opened at the Virka Gallery at the Helsinki City Hall (10.9.–10.10.2010). There are also dvd and film projections there at the very address where Finland's first cinema screening took place 114 years ago. The City Hall was then the Hotel Seurahuone with the Finnish equivalent of the Grand Café, and that's where the Lumière company premiered in Finland. The film directors Anssi Mänttäri and Mika Kaurismäki opened the Sodankylä exhibition with a funny dialogue on how the Midnight Film Festival got started 25 years ago.

The Rautakirja media company celebrated their Centenary at the Tennis Palace multiplex with a thousand guests and the CEO Timo Mänty giving a speech. Rautakirja is the number one player nationally in kiosks (R-kioski) and cinemas (Finnkino), and a leading player in bookstores (Suomalainen Kirjakauppa). Starting their second century Rautakirja seems to be firmly on the path of success.

The Helsinki Festival was concluded last Sunday, and the staff and the collaborators had a party at the Dubrovnik Lounge at the Corona Bar. The first edition of Erik Söderblom, a well known conductor and theatre director, as the director of Finland's greatest festival, was a success. As for the cinema programming, we keep showing repeat screenings of Tati and Visconti at Cinema Orion.

To finish the evening I sampled Visconti's La caduta degli dei (in its English version The Damned) at Cinema Orion. I remember my first reaction to the film was that I felt distanced by the decadence. I felt the reality of the birth of the Nazi nation was strong enough material, and the themes of incest, pedophilia, and cross-dressing were distractions. I still feel the film is flawed because of this. The realistic aspects are impressive enough. Helmut Griem's presenting the Gestapo archives to Ingrid Thulin now brings to mind The Life of Others and the Gestapo-Stasi continuity. The staging of the SA party leading to the Night of the Long Knives seems convincing. Visconti the realist can portray both the upper class and the SA beer-hall mentality vividly. - The full colour in the old print was still intact.

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