Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sukunsa viimeinen / Pudana: Last of the Line

Den sista av sin släkt. FI © 2010 Illume Oy. P: Pertti Veijalainen, Jouko Aaltonen. D+SC: Anastasia Lapsui, Markku Lehmuskallio. DP: Johannes Lehmuskallio - shot and edited on 16 mm - blown up to 35 mm. AD: Gregori Anagurtishi, Irina Jevai, Nedko Serotetto, Irina Serotettu, Valeri Serotetto. ED: Juho Gartz. S: Sergei Zabenin / Peter Nordström, Olli Pärnänen, Heikki Kossi, Tapio Liukkonen. Cast: Nadezhda Pyrerko (herself, Neko as an adult), Aleksandra Okotetto (Neko as a young girl), Anastasia Lapsui (Neko's grandmother), Jevgeni Hudi (Neko's father), Ljudmila Zannikova (Soviet teacher), Radik Anaguritsi (Parasi - Neko's friend). 81 min. In Nenets and Russian. A Pirkanmaan Elokuvakeskus print with Finnish subtitles only viewed at Cinema Orion (The Jussi Awards), Helsinki 21 Dec 2010

The theme of "the first teacher" was important in the Soviet cinema (Kozintsev, Trauberg, Donskoy, Konchalovsky). Anastasia Lapsui and Markku Lehmuskallio's film shows us the other side of the story, that of the child of the indigenous tribe that has always wandered the land and still retains their ancient customs and culture.

A shaman drum is juxtaposed with a Komsomol song.

The Last of the Line is a fiction film which belongs to the Nenets cycle of films by Lapsui and Lehmuskallio. It is a unique body of work devoted to the Flahertyan inspiration of looking for the "last paradise", now already becoming "paradise lost", a different concept of time and living before modernity. A different concept of eternity that has existed in our lifetime.

The Tundra Nenets are a nomadic Samoyedic people living far north in the Siberian tundra herding reindeer on the Yamal Peninsula.

Finnish critics have noticed the connection to As If I Didn't Exist (Elina - som om jag inte fanns) dealing with the Meänkieli people in the 1950s in the valley of the Torne River in Swedish Lapland. The break with the past and the denial of one's own name and language can be soul-destroying.

In the late 1960s Neko has never learned Russian, never tasted porridge, never heard of Lenin, never sat on a chair. Having seen the (non-political) red dream she would be the one to carry forward the tribe's totemistic, shamanic tradition. But then she is taken to a Soviet school and given the new name of Nadezhda (Hope) (also the name of Lenin's wife).

The story is set against the vast horizons of the tundra. Visually memorable are also the warm and expressive close-ups. The crucial action is the children's escape from the school back home, following the seven star constellation of the Big Dipper. There is a pleasantly lively and juicy visual quality in the all-photochemical print.

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