Friday, February 15, 2013

Tapsa - viiltoja reissumiehen elämästä / Tapsa

FI 1980. PC: Yleisradio / TV 1 / Viihdetoimitus. D+SC : Peter von Bagh. ED: Paavo Eskelinen. Featuring: Tapio Rautavaara. Telecasts: 20.3.1980 and 16.12.1982 YLE TV1, 16.6.2007, 17.6.2007 and 2.8.2008 YleTeema – vhs release: 1985 YLE Tallennepalvelu – VET A-25267 – S – 74 min – Orion 2013: digibeta / Yle Export. Viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (How My Films Were Made), 15 Feb 2013.

In the presence of Peter von Bagh. In the conclusion to his preceding lecture and in the introduction to this screening he commented that Tapsa was the incredible culmination of his career in the sense that there were 2,5 million viewers, half of the entire population. See my entry on Bagh's lecture for further comments.

A documentary film on Tapio Rautavaara (8 March 1915, Pirkkala - 25 September 1979, Helsinki), a wanderer and an artist. "The purpose of the film Tapsa was to reflect Rautavaara's personality. He himself as a character gave the keys. It has been tinged accordingly. From the material any kind of movie could have been made. It could have been in a deadly earnest register or entirely consisting of wisecracks. But as it is it is perhaps true to Rautavaara" (Peter von Bagh, 1980).

"For television Peter von Bagh launched in 1972 his huge project to cover Finnish popular culture, traditional and modern (in Olavi Virta, 1972, Paavo Nurmi, 1978, Tauno Palo, 1981, and in Suomi-pop – suomalaisen iskelmän historia [Suomi Pop - the History of the Finnish Hit Songs], 1-5, 1984–1985)."

"Inspired by Siegfried Kracauer Bagh coined into the Finnish vocabulary the expression about hit songs being 'a secret history of the nation'. Sinitaivas ([The Blue Sky], 1978) Repe (1979), and Tapsa (1980) were visionary works, and Vuosi 1952 ([The Year 1952] ,1980) was an early culmination of Bagh's collage approach. The high and the low, the sublime and the ridiculous were mixed like in John Ford's films. Along with the portraits of established stars of the Finnish popular music Bagh produced a remarkable series about the topical personalities of 'Suomi rock'. In the 19 episodes of the Lähikuvassa [In Close-Up] series in 1983-1992 the modern stars included Tuomari Nurmio, Remu Aaltonen, Pelle Miljoona, Juice Leskinen, Hassisen Kone, Eppu Normaali, Dave "Isokynä" Lindholm, and Rauli "Badding" Somerjoki." (Antti Alanen: Elokuvantekijät [Encyclopedia of Film-Makers], Helsinki: Otava, 2012).

Olaf Möller: "Tapio Rautavaara (1915-79) had it all: He was an Olympic Gold Medallist (javelin, London 1948) and master archer (world champion with the Finnish team, 1958), one of Finland's few chansonniers, as well as a mighty popular movie star. Tapsa, as he was called, is an honest-to-God Finnish pop-legend whose sheer appearance in a film still can make an audience go wild with joy. Difficult to imagine that this rugged-looking, unpretentious guy who ever so candidly shares his memories here with the audience was a man able to keep a nation spell-bound – yet what a wonderful certainty. Tapsa – viiltoja reissumiehen elämästä is driven by Peter von Bagh's admiration, nay: love for this axiom of post-war Finland, the nation's aspirations made flesh. Some of the material he had shot with Tapsa already found a place in Repe – sirpaleita Reino Helismaan elämästä. Not only for this, these two works should be considered as parts of the same project: Tapsa – viiltoja reissumiehen elämästä remembers the times, Repe – sirpaleita Reino Helismaan elämästä reconstructs them." (Olaf Möller: The Finland Inside, the Rotterdam 2012 essay expanded in 2013)

A documentary portrait on Tapio Rautavaara largely shot during his last months, shortly before he died in an accident. The foundation of the movie is a powerful and deeply felt interview, following in the same profound mood as the Tapio Rautavaara interviews for the preceding film Repe, on Rautavaara's close colleague and fellow wanderer Reijo Helismaa.

Intercut is Rautavaara's contemporary tour footage and excerpts from his appearances in newsreels, film performances and recordings.

Tapio Rautavaara is a born storyteller, and the movie is a chronological journey into his life and his times. The magic of this film is how it catches the spirit of Tapsa, his way and at the same time the entire stretch of the history of the independent Finland he covered and experienced: what it meant to be fatherless, how it was in the 1930s, during the wars, stardom after the war...

The essence of this movie is that is a documentary of a dream and of the spirit of a modern bard, Tapio Rautavaara, who was like a Woody Guthrie or a Johnny Cash of Finland, but entirely original.

Rough notes of the first half an hour or so: - ♪ "Tuo aika toukokuun" ["That Time Of May"]. - Mother: I was all that mother had. She had a son out of wedlock. It was an utter shame. - The Pirkkala dialect stuck. It came from my grandma, my mother's mother. - ♪ "Kulkuri ja joutsen" ["The Tramp And The Swan"]. - Repe wrote the lyrics for his own daughter. - In Tampere I started kansakoulu = elementary school. - Urheilemaan, muuten tulee noutaja = "Go in for sports, otherwise the reaper will come and get you". - Olin kaikessa viimeinen = I was the last in everything, especially in skiing. - I started to throw stones, and from that I advanced to throwing the javelin. - Äiti aina lauleli mulle = Mother always sang for me. - ♪ "Tuonne taakse metsämaan" ["There Beyond The Forest", a folk song]. - Then she always cried. - Surullisia lauluja äiti lauleskeli = Sad songs my mother did sing. - Tour footage: Mitäs Orimattilaan kuuluu = how are things in Orimattila? - Kyllä mä väkeni tunnen = I know my people. - As a child Rautavaara says he managed to see Eino Leino and Larin Kyösti, two great poets, in Tuusula. - Ei meinannut tie piisata = the road was barely broad enough for the both of them. - There had also lived a little guy known as Vileeni: "рубашка" - "завтра". She told that the night lamp in his window had been burning all night. That little guy was V.I. Lenin. - ♪ "Päivänsäde ja menninkäinen" ["The Sunray And The Goblin"].  - It was real poverty. I stole food. - I started to work at 13 years of age. I sold papers. - Siihen aikaan sai huutaa = Those were the days when we got to shout. - Kun duunarit pääsi irti = When the workers were leaving their factories - Nopeana piti olla = you needed to be fast. - Linjoilla = I worked the railroads, too - That's where the reissumies = the wanderer got started. - ♪ "Elämäni on lauluni" ("Mein Leben ist mein Lied") - käyn tietäin laulaen, kuin säveltä kuunnellen = I walk my way singing, like listening to a tune - yksin pitkä on kulkea tie = it's a lonely lane to walk alone - in 1931 it ended - the Depression - all the boys had to go to hätäaputöihin = works projects administration jobs - murskasimme sepeliä = we crushed gravel - pakkasella = it was hard work in the winter, in freezing temperatures - the salary was a food coupon for Elanto - ♪ "Juokse sinä humma" ["Run, My Horse"]: voi kuinka pieninä palasina on mun leipäni maailmalla = oh in how tiny bits my meal ticket is splintered all over the world - I joined the TUL = Työväen Urheiluliitto = Finnish Workers' Sports Federation - in the terrible 1930s, when the Lapuanliike = The Lapua Movement was rampant: they shut down työväentaloja = workers' cultural houses - they destroyed workers' printing presses with sledge hammers - they persuaded me to switch to their organization - "you'll get a job" - if you join the suojeluskunta = the White Guard - toiset lankes, toiset ei = some fell, others didn't - I was stubborn - my mother was a founding member in the Nokia Pyry [which belonged to the TUL] - there was a silent spirit - and nobody could change that - I realized that sport might be a path to an easier life - what if I could make my javelin fly - I was 17 - at Padasjoki I met a lentojätkä = a wandering lumberjack who wandered from one lumbercamp to the next - called Mannakorven Antti - he told me: "Elä Tapsa reilusti, elä vaikka päivä vähemmän" = "Tapsa, live straight, even if it means that you live one day less" - Sotareissu = the war trip: I don't like to chat abot that - at Karhumäki, Mikko Kajaani endorsed me - in 1943 I threw the javelin to 80,97 meters - exceeding by 2 meters the world record - there were several witnesses - they staked a pole deep onto the spot - I wonder if it is still there [beyond the Eastern border] - ♪ "Häävalssi" ["Wedding Waltz", Friiti Ojala / made famous by Konsta Jylhä / lyrics Tuula Valkama / arr. Toivo Kärki] - The wedding: a gate into the future - Iltamia = there were programmed soirées - lapikkaat jalassa, puukko vyöllä = I wore beaked boots and had a knife on my belt - Toivo Karhumäki was running the Maaselkä Radio - I became a radio announcer - tulin sinuksi mikrofonin kanssa = I got familiar with the mike - that was my start in public performances - the men on the front spread the word - that there is that Tapsa who is a really nice fellow - not in my dreams do I remember the war times - except in high fever - then my wife wakes me up and says "ei olla sodassa enää" = we are not at war anymore - sodan jälkeen kansa tahtoi pelon pois = after the war the people wanted to get rid of the fear - ♪ "Vain merimies voi tietää" ["Only A Sailor Can Know"] - the iltamat, the dances were popular - the team was Toivo Kärki, Reino Helismaa, Tapio Rautavaara - ♪ "Kulkurin iltatähti" ["The Vagabond's Night Star"]. --- Of Tapsa we revisited this time the first half an hour or so.

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