Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Kuin uni ja varjo / As Dream and Shadow...

Dröm och skugga. FI 1937. PC: Oy Suomen Filmiteollisuus. EX: T.J. Särkkä. D: Toivo Särkkä, Yrjö Norta. SC: Toivo Särkkä – based on the novel by Eino Railo (1935). DP: Theodor Luts. AD: Karl Fager. Makeup: Olavi Suominen. M: Martti Similä. Hymn 324 ("Mä matkamies olen waiwainen / Täynn' ompi waaroja retken"), "Olut on kaljan kaltaasta, mutta viina se menöö päähän", "Eri linja on tährillä, eri auringolla ja kuulla", "Tuuli se taivutti koivun larvan". S+ED: Yrjö Norta. Loc: Lapua. C: Ansa Ikonen (Eliina Ylitalo), Eino Kaipainen (Akseli Huhta), Jorma Nortimo (Yrjö M., student), Laila Rihte (Kerttu, maid at Talvitie), Ester Toivonen (Johanna Ylitalo), Siiri Angerkoski (mother Huhta), Aku Korhonen (father Huhta), Uuno Laakso (old man Luoma), Joel Rinne (Juho, master of Talvitie), Yrjö Tuominen (master of Ylitalo), Jalmari Rinne (provost). Helsinki premiere: 26.9.1937 Rex – certificate A-809 – K16. A KAVA print deposited by YLE, duration 110 min, viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Pohjanmaa), 9 May 2012.

An important early film in the development of the SF company and Toivo Särkkä, the second Pohjanmaa movie of the company.

There are two Ylitalo sisters. Eliina (Ansa Ikonen) is crippled and tuberculotic but full of life, and she enjoys a summer romance with a young surveyor from the city (Jorma Nortimo) in what may be her last summer. Johanna (Ester Toivonen) is serious and deeply religious and capable to become the mistress of a big farm.

There are two young rivals. Akseli (Eino Kaipainen) is the son of a little farm, but he is strong, fearless and hard-working, and Johanna and Akseli love each other. Juho (Joel Rinne) is the master of a big farm, and he tries to conquer Johanna via her father, but when Akseli seems to be winning, Juho gets violent and starts a drunken rampage.

The two main types of social events are the seurat (religious evenings) and the iltamat (dancing parties), both depicted with respect. The novel, based on the writer Eino Railo's youthful experiences, was set in the year 1904, but the film adaptation was transferred into the present, yet there are no radios, cars or references to contemporary politics.

The title of the movie is taken from the Finnish hymn then numbered 324, still in our hymn book as hymn number 622, dating back to 1656, and best known in its version from Lapua, where the action of the novel takes place and where the exteriors of the movie were shot.

The lyrics might be inspired by the Ecclesiastes: "Life here is like a dream and shadow, restless like surging rapids, vanishing into sand like water".

There are interesting things in the movie. The rivalry of Juho and Akseli is physically convincing. The relationship of the sisters Eliina and Johanna is unconventional. There is a touch of Buñuel in the tender way in which Eliina with her crutches is depicted, and also in the fate of Juho who gets blind in the climactic fire. The etiquette of the aitta (the daughter's private room in a storehouse separate from the main building but visible from it) is discussed: at night the suitor may knock at the daughter's door and may be permitted to enter. There are dimensions of realism in the crowd scenes (the Pohjanmaa people are keen in appearing in Pohjanmaa movies). It is nice to see an early appearance of Aku Korhonen and Siiri Angerkoski, essential members of the Särkkä / SF stock compay, as the parents of Akseli.

Unfortunately the movie is clumsily directed.

The print was clean. The visual quality was at times good, but there was no consistency in the definition of light, and at least partly the print was duped from used viewing prints.

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