2007-05-29

Top 100 Finnish films of all time

Helsingin Sanomat held a vote (fi) on the top 100 Finnish films of all time. Here's the full list (fi). In the top ten, we find the following flicks:

  1. Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Soldier), Edvin Laine, 1955: Continuation War is hell, machine gun unit finds.
  2. Komisario Palmun erehdys (Mysterious Case of the Rygseck Murders), Matti Kassila, 1960: Rich layabout dies in odd circumstances. Grouchy police lieutenant and dopey assistants investigate.
  3. Kahdeksan surmanluotia (Eight Deadly Shots), Mikko Niskanen, 1972: Stressed-out farmer goes amok. Hilarity doesn't ensue.
  4. Mies vailla menneisyyttä (The Man without a Past), Aki Kaurismäki, 2002: I can't remember anything about it.
  5. Täällä Pohjantähden alla (Here under the Northern Star), Edvin Laine, 1968: Finnish Civil War is hell, a hard-working crofter family finds.
  6. Jäniksen vuosi (The Year of the Hare), Risto Jarva, 1977: A regular guy drops out, makes friends with a hare.
  7. Valkoinen peura (The White Reindeer), Erik Blomberg, 1952: Sexy witch causes havoc in Lapland.
  8. Arvottomat (The Worthless), Mika Kaurismäki, 1982: Yeah.
  9. Kulkurin valssi (The Vagabond's Valse), T.J. Särkkä, 1941: Pretty people fall in love, overcome obstacles in a historical setting.
  10. Kauas pilvet karkaavat (Drifting Clouds), Aki Kaurismäki, 1998: A couple lose their jobs, which is a bummer.
Director-wise, Edvin Laine and Aki Kaurismäki have two pictures each featured in the top ten. The by-decade distribution is fairly even, if only thanks to the efforts of the Kaurismäki brothers. The 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s have two films each; the 1940s, 1980s, 1990s, and so far 2000s have to make do with one. There's a noticeable literary bent to the list: #1 and #5 are based on Väinö Linna's novels, #2 is based on a detective novel by Mika Waltari, and #6 is based on Arto Paasilinna's story.

The winner was a predictable choice. The Unknown Soldier has historical significance as a cultural phenomenon and is a good movie besides. The dialog is excellent and there are some genuinely moving scenes in there, above all when Finlandia kicks in at the end. The movie is shown on TV every Independence Day, which is a huge advantage in a public vote. Having a Palmu film at number two is more surprising. It's an entertaining movie with colorful characters and a wonderfully nostalgic feel, but genre films don't usually do well on lists like this one.

3 comments:

Passer-by said...

You don't like A. Kaurismäki, huh? I'd say he is _the_ Finnish auteur, definitely in a league of his own.

Ari said...

The comment on Mies vailla menneisyyttä was a jokey reference to the movie's protagonist losing his memory. Kaurismäki definitely has an original vision, and while I'm not a big fan, I can appreciate someone doing his own thing.

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