Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Eedenistä pohjoiseen / Garden Lovers / [North of Eden]
Tampere Film Festival. National Competition 2


Finland 2014
Documentary | 73 min

Director: Virpi Suutari
Dokumentaarinen rakkauselokuva puutarhanhoidon välttämättömyydestä.
A love story about the necessity of gardening.

AA: The lovely cinematography is by Heikki Färm, and the wonderful, playful score is by Sanna Salmenkallio. End music: "Hyväile, hyväile vaan" sung by Tamara Lund.

The concept: the garden as the key to the lives of a dozen utterly different couples. Some have been together 68 years, others have just met in the chatroom of the internet. For some, the garden is a project of incessant hard (but rewarding) work, for others, they just let it grow as a wild oasis. One couple is focused on growing a prize pumpkin, others are rose specialists. It's about the life cycles for plants and people. The four seasons. The daytime and the nighttime. One of the protagonists dies, and her ashes are scattered in her favourite bush. It's about "back to the nature", it's about Paradise found. The visual register is rich, with intimate close-ups and humoristic long shots revealing the tiny humans in their vast gardens.

Among the gardeners there is Heikki A. Reenpää (born 1922), a great cultural figure. He was essential in promoting the generation of Modernist writers in the 1950s at the Otava publishing house. In 2004 he donated to the National Library his private library of over 20.000 volumes, with several unique or extremely valuable items, in the best possible condition.

There is no irony in this movie. Yet the final sentence of Voltaire's Candide, ou L'Optimisme, the locus classicus of irony, about living "in the best of all possible worlds", comes to mind. And I believe that Voltaire, either, had no irony in that final sentence.
    "Tous les évènements sont enchainés dans le meilleur des mondes possibles: car enfin si vous n'aviez pas été chassé d'un beau château à grands coups de pieds dans le derrière pour l'amour de mademoiselle Cunégonde, si vous n'aviez pas été mis à l'Inquisition, si vous n'aviez pas couru l'Amérique à pied, si vous n'aviez pas donné un bon coup d'épée au baron, si vous n'aviez pas perdu tous vos moutons du bon pays d'Eldorado, vous ne mangeriez pas ici des cédrats confits et des pistaches."
"    — Cela est bien dit, répondit Candide, mais il faut cultiver notre jardin.

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