Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pohjalaisia / [The People from Pohjanmaa / could also be called The People from the Plains] (1925)

Österbottningarna. FI 1925. PC: Suomi-Filmi. EX: Erkki Karu. D: Jalmari Lahdensuo. Ass. D: Martti Tuukka. SC: Artturi Järviluoma - based on his play (1914). DP: Frans Ekebom; Ass: Armas Fredman, Arvo Tamminen. AD: Martti Tuukka. Local expert: Kaarlo Kultalahti. C: Simo Kaario (Erkki Harri), Oiva Soini (Jussi Harri), Kaisa Leppänen (Maija Harri), Einar Rinne (Antti Hanka), Ilmari Unho (Heikki Hanka), Aino Lohikoski (Liisa), Mimmi Lähteenoja (Kaisa), Lauri Rautala (Salttu), Otto Al'Antila (Koljola), Hemmo Airamo (clerk), Kyösti Salomaa (shoemaker), Thorild Bröderman (sheriff), Yrjö Somersalmi (Köysti of Karjanmaa), Hannes Härhi (Kaappo), William Räisänen (bridge bailiff), Martti Tuukka (priest), Iivari Tuomari (judge), Kaarlo Kultalahti, crown bailiff Hjelt, judge Alajoki (badmen), Armas Fredman (vallesmannin renki). Crowd scenes: young people from Härmä and Lapua. Loc: Alahärmä, Ylihärmä, Vaasa. Studio: Vironkatu Studio.

Reconstructed and restored by KAVA (2012). Restoration: Anna Lehto, Päivi Hurskainen. Editing: Jarmo Nyman. Technical production: Generator Post.

Dvd of the restored version viewed at home, Helsinki, 30 May 2012.

Artturi Järviluoma's play Pohjalaisia (1914) is one of the most popular Finnish plays, and it has been filmed twice. The 1936 film adaptation has been the one regularly seen since it was made. The 1925 adaptation has survived very well thanks to the farsightedness of the Suomi-Filmi company, but it has been little seen during the sound era - since 80 years, although in 1994 Suomi-Filmi released the movie as a vhs video.

The screenplay of the movie was written by the playwright, Artturi Järviluoma, himself, and the director of the movie, Jalmari Lahdensuo, was also the director of the original theatre production of the play.

The colour of the toning is beautiful, and there are visually powerful scenes in the movie, such as the silhouette-like long shot of the big fight on the bridge that we see in the beginning. Frans Ekebom has a good sense of composition in several striking shots.

The presence of the nature - the great plains and the great rivers - is essential, and it is easy to believe why the escaped convict Antti decides to return as "I cannot live elsewhere but in these plains".

There is a feeling of physical realism and authenticity in the location shooting.We see fields being ploughed, windmill blades rotating in the background, scenes in the yard, and religious meetings. The hollow alderman baton with documents inside circulates in the community. Alcohol is consumed liberally in every house, and there is an obligatory drunken scene.

The arrival of the badmen to make trouble at the dance is electrifying. Oiva Soini rises to the occasion as Jussi who leads the peaceful participants of the dance. The fight between Jussi and Köysti seems real. When Jussi wins, they shake hands, and Köysti declares that Jussi now is the king of the plains (lukko).

The story takes place in the middle of the 19th century, the age when the rampage of the badmen was at its worst in Pohjanmaa. The two extremes are the hot-tempered and violent badmen, and the pietists whose faith in God is a challenge to violence. The humiliating and misdirected discipline of the sheriff is resented. When he has the innocent Jussi arrested and humiliates him with a whip, Jussi breaks his chains with his bare hands and attacks the sheriff who shoots Jussi, but the lethally wounded Jussi manages to strike the sheriff dead with his knife. "These people will never bend to obey the whip", are Jussi's last words, and "My eyes will never be bright anymore", says his fiancée Liisa at his lifeless body.

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