Sunday, October 11, 2020

Katseen vanki / Captive of the Gaze – The Anneli Sauli Story

 

Timo Humaloja: Katseen vanki / [The Prisoner of the Look] (2011). A documentary film about the actress Anneli Sauli.

FI 2011 © 2010 Kinovid Productions. P: Timo Humaloja.
    A documentary film about the actress Anneli Sauli (born 1932).
    D+SC: Timo Humaloja. Research: Timo Humaloja, Outi Nyytäjä, Tuula-Liina Varis. Cin: Harri Paavola. S: Heikki Innanen. ED: Petteri Evilampi. Yle archive research: Eva Lintunen.
    Featuring: Anneli Sauli.
    Interviewed by: Tuula-Liina Varis, Timo Humaloja.
    Featuring in archival footage: T. J. Särkkä, Jouko Turkka, Åke Lindman, Alexander von Richthofen, Toni Sailer, Jaakko Pakkasvirta,
    Archival footage:
– Hilja maitotyttö / [Hilja the Milkmaid] (FI 1953, D: Toivo Särkkä)
– Risti ja liekki / The Cross and the Flame (FI 1957, D: Armand Lohikoski)
– 1918 (FI 1957, D: Toivo Särkkä)
– Miriam (FI 1957, D: William Markus)
– Lumisten metsien tyttö / [The Girl from the Snowy Forest] (FI 1960, D: William Markus)
– Unruhige Nacht / Veri huutaa taivaisiin / The Restless Night (DE 1958, D: Falk Harnack)
– Weit ist der Weg (DE 1960, D: Wolfgang Schleif)
– Von Mäusen und Menschen / Of Mice and Men (DE 1963, theatre tour)
– Pikku veli ja pikku sisar (FI 1963, Lilla Teatern)
– Raportti eli balladi laivatytöistä / [Report, or a Ballad about the Girls of the Port] (FI 1964, D: Maunu Kurkvaara)
– Onnenpeli / [A Game of Luck] (FI 1965, D: Risto Jarva)
– Käpy selän alla (FI 1966, D: Mikko Niskanen)
– X-paroni / [Baron X] (FI 1964, D: Risto Jarva, Jaakko Pakkasvirta, Spede Pasanen)
– Nuoruuden suloinen lintu / Sweet Bird of Youth (Joensuu City Theatre, 1990, D: Lars Lindeman)
– Kuka pelkää Virginia Woolfia /  Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf (Joensuu City Theatre, 1991, D: Sinikka Tossavainen)
– Jumalan rakastaja / [God's Lover] (Joensuu City Theatre, 1985, D: Seppo Luhtala)
Telepremiere 21 May 2011.
Viewed from my DVR at home, Helsinki, 11 Oct 2020.

AA: Timo Humaloja's documentary about the beloved Finnish actress Anneli Sauli is based on the contrast between the public image and the real human being.

The movie has largely been conducted in split screen. We see vintage movie footage to the left, and the bemused Anneli watching and commenting to the right. "Then" and "Now" is the concept.

Anneli Sauli became a star in 1953 at Finland's biggest film production company Suomen Filmiteollisuus (SF). The CEO was T. J. Särkkä who signed his name as director and screenwriter as Toivo Särkkä.

Sauli became instantly Finland's love goddess, with a status similar with Silvana Mangano, Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren in Italy, Brigitte Bardot in France, Marilyn Monroe in the US, Diana Dors in Britain and Ulla Jacobsson and Harriet Andersson in Sweden.

Sauli declares that it was merely painful and embarrassing. Since she was a teenager she found it unpleasant to be stared at. She almost prayed God to avoid attention.

Särkkä was like a benevolent father figure, safe and protective; funny and charismatic. "I was allowed to be myself, a child of nature. He was a man of honour". Also the biggest star Tauno Palo "was big enough" to be only loyal, friendly and nice, with no need to be mean.

Sauli did not try to please, but "I can't help my sensuality". Male attention was offensive, female attention was derogatory. "All my life I have had to defend myself" against hypocrisy. "Much is still going on. Men dominate female sexuality and repress it."

Miriam (1957) "was my best film", one of Sauli's three adaptations based on the writer Walentin Chorell. Another notable one was Lumisten metsien tyttö, "believable to this day". "Then I was unemployed, could not pay the rent. Films were no longer made".

Anneli Sauli moved to Germany where she made 12 films as Ann Savo, plus three teleplays, including two Goldoni adaptations. She also toured in a theatrical group with Of Mice and Men. She was in the heart of German popular cinema, working for Artur Brauner's CCC company for instance, with actors like Gert Fröbe, Klaus Kinski and Senta Berger, and including several Krimis based on Edgar Wallace or starring Dr. Mabuse.

The most prominent role was the first one: The Restless Night (1958), coming to terms with German invasion into Ukraine. The director was Falk Harnack who had attracted attention with The 20th of July (1955), about the von Stauffenberg assassination conspiracy against Hitler, with Wolfgang Preiss in the role later incorporated by Tom Cruise, among others.

The German years took Savo to far away places like Africa or Rio de Janeiro in Weit ist der Weg (1960). She had a three-year relationship with Alexander von Richthofen, a friendly and progressive actor (of the same family as the "Red Baron" WWI air ace Manfred von Richthofen) and a one-year relationshop with Toni Sailer, the Olympic ski champion from Kitzbühel, the national hero of Austria, also an actor and singer.

Sauli was attracted back to Finland by Maunu Kurkvaara (to make the movie Raportti) and Vivica Bandler (to play at Lilla Teatern in Pikku veli ja pikku sisar). "Kurkvaara made Anna Karina out of me", "but I did not imitate anybody". Further on in the Finnish new wave cinema, Sauli acted in Risto Jarva's Onnenpeli, the first modern Finnish urban movie. She had entered the Filminor team in the comedy X-paroni starring Spede Pasanen. Jaakko Pakkasvirta, a key Filminor talent, became Sauli's husband in 1967–1969. Sauli also had a guest role in the most popular Finnish new wave movie, Käpy selän alla. Life was tough and modest.

Then Sauli called Jouko Turkka at the Joensuu City Theatre. Turkka launched her on a 30 year career there with young talents including Tuula Nyman, Turo Unho, Hellevi Seiro Härkönen, Matti Ruohola and Esa Pakarinen, Jr. "I was an outsider". "I swam against the current all alone". All her life Sauli has been a Communist, based on profound conviction, also politically active.

Sauli's most shattering performances emerged in Joensuu. The Sweet Bird of Youth was powerfully cathartic and deeply personal. "Film stardom had been the most difficult burden to carry". Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf was about living in a lie, charting both sore points and feelings of happiness. Jussi Parviainen's God's Lover brought her into the core of native contemporary drama, scandalously for a hypocritical element of the audience who had been duly warned.

Sauli is deeply grateful for the theatre for the restoration of her honour as an actress. The decades as a film star were a period of humiliation and disappointment.

Sauli has also always been an activist in the cause of the Romani people. As a child she learned that her biological father was Valdemar Swarz, a Romani man, and a feeling of being an outsider therefore has always accompanied her. This was not discussed at home. There was little tolerance for those who are different.

But "finally I'm on my own, and have been that way for a long time now".

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