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Finnish culture and entertainment


This topic will include the former Finnish music and Finnish movies topics, my future posts about latest games by Finnish companies and literature or whatever I happen think worth introducing.



I'll open this with summary of Niskavuori plays/movies I've done along last month.

Niskavuori is a series of five plays written 1936-1953 of which there are numerous movie versions. The series is one of best known works of Finnish literature, but I must confess I haven't ever payed much attention to it. Now a series of old movies is on TV and I decided to get to know these and to introduce them to you.

Niskavuori is a chronicle of a family, but even more of the house and farm of that name (which btw literally means "Neck Mountain"). The series is known for strong female characters, them being in the center of the storyline. It's set in Häme of central Finland, pretty much around where I live (though at least in movies their accents sound to be somewhat south from here).

Before getting to storylines, I should explain couple concepts. Until beginning of 1900's the farming was mostly in torppa/torppari system (cabin/cabiner) where most farmers were servants, not owning the land they farmed. They paid part of harvest as tax to landowner and failing this could be thrown out any time. Largely for this reason they didn't build good houses (you can't take it with you), but lived in meager cabins and this was the separation between classes: masters and servant, people of the house and the cabiners. This separation wasn't very absolute though; a cabiner could gather enough money to buy his land or a younger son of a small house might have to become a cabiner.
"Renki" was a male servant, one for physical work. He could be a cabiner, but the word mostly means someone working directly to master of house or a cabiner. "Piika" was female equivalent, a maid who might also do cleaning and childcare in a wealthier house.
After 1905 law stated that cabiners had right to buy their land (I assume in price ordered by local judge or so) most farms broke down to smaller ones or the former cabiners became servants living in the house or builings connected to it (barns and storage spaces). Various other arrangement were used to keep approximately the old status, just with slightly better terms for servants, them becoming paid workers.
It should be noted that during these stories, before WWII, over half of Finland's population lived in farming communities like this.


The plays in the order they were written:


Women of Niskavuori (set 1931-32)

Youngest son Aarne is the master of house Niskavuori as his brothers have made careers in city. While he has many fine qualities, he has a great vice - women. His mother Loviisa, matron of the house, covers up his adventures (as she did for his father) and his wife Martta mostly chooses to believe the lies of those two.
Village gets a new teacher - atractive single female, to joy of most men and annoyance of women. Particularly her being "one of them town folk" creates suspicions her decency. While the teacher Ilona does her job very well, her liberal and naive views and happy attitude on life (here in serious Häme) increase the dislike of the more God fearing villagers.
Aarne on the other hand falls in love with the woman so different from everybody around (though he earlier during studies lived in city). Eventually she gives in and they start affair, which wont stay hidden long in small neighborhood.
Loviisa tries to hush it up like everything before and talk sense to Ilona, to Aarne - though less directly - and to Martta who is about to make a huge scene of the matter Loviisa thinks should be handled at home behind closed doors.
But Ilona is already pregnant and Aarne is certain he loves her. Loviisa does not accept that her son would divorce - unheard of in house Niskavuori - and declares he'll not have any part of niskavuori if he does so. But against all this protest Aarne leaves with Ilona.
In parting Loviisa says: "I was about to say you're not welcome to this house even to my funeral... but you will be, then."


Bread of Niskavuori (movie title: Aarne of Niskavuori)(set 1937)

Bread of Niskavuori is a direct sequel to Women of Niskavuori.
Niskavuori is run by "Old Mistress" Loviisa and her former daughter-in-law Martta. All sons of Niskavuori have left to cities and that's the sorrow of Loviisa: who's to take over Niskavuori after her. Martta, as she later admits, can't live without a man has affair with a leading servant. When she ends up with child, Old Mistress is more or less satified expecting the good servant to become new master.
But Martta refuses and eventually marries a doctor (divorced himself, in costly way, and therefore looking as much her money has the still lovely woman). Loviisa doesn't greatly like the doctor, but keeps her smile on when bargaining with him; house of Niskavuori is to welcome him to marry Martta, hushing all talk that might question identity of child's father and in return doctor will persuate his bride to sell her share of Niskavuori. Bitter to Aarne she refuses to sell back to them, but she might sell to a neighbor... with whom Loviisa has agreement that he'll sell to her.
In secret from his wife and Loviisa (he thinks) Aarne has been following and taking care affairs of Niskavuori along years. He's drawn to good old physical work with hands in dirt; but Ilona demands they stay in city where both have careers. They are visiting Niskavuori when Loviisa tries to set up the deals for her to get Martta's share of house; when she finds out what she's selling is about to end up on them she least wants, Martta quickly tears the contract to pieces. Ilona thanks her with all her heart and begs Martta never sells to them, to keep Aarne from returning. Hearing this Martta immideately tells Loviisa they can have Niskavuori and she's done with it.
Despite his wife's protests and threaths to stay in in city with their children, Aarne becomes again the master of Niskavuori. Loviisa is a gracious winner, trying to make peace with new daughter-in-law, hoping her to stay. She points out that Ilona is now the mistress of Niskavuori and is to sit in the end of the table, place Loviisa has held for half century.

---

Oct/4/2010, 22:02 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 
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Young Mistress of Niskavuori (movie title: Loviisa)(set 1880's)

(Not among these movies, I don't think I've ever seen this.)
Prequel to Women of Niskavuori.
Loviisa arrives to Niskavuori. Propably includes events mentioned in last part.


Heta of Niskavuori (set 1890's-1920's)

This is most separate and independent part of the series.
Heta is the proud daughter of house Niskavuori. She has many men courting her... one too many. When she gets pregnant, Heta is forced to marry poor servant Akusti, even though he's not the father. When she arrives to Akusti's cabin Muumäki - which she hadn't visited before - Heta is shocked by the conditions she's to live in. She also takes instant dislike on Akusti's old mother and their maid Siipirikko ("Broken Wing", like an injured bird, in reference to her bad leg). Siipirikko is daughter of Akusti's old friend and he has sworn to take care of her.
While utterly humiliated (in her view), Heta is not least bit humbled. She declares no-one from Niskavuori or any better folks of the neighborhood are welcome to see their home before Akusti has build a new house - as he plans to in next years, now that he has family. Heta whips her husband and maid to work from early morning to late night... but does no less herself.
In years their hard work (and some wise business Akusti does behind her back) has brought wealth. They've also had two girls after first son Jaakko. But even when house of Muumäki is ready (and whole three meters larger than Niskavuori) and their wealth and lands equal all neighbors, Heta is still cold and bitter. She sees Akusti still another peasant and though village leaders take him to various boards such as one of local bank and other offices, Heta thinks they do so just to have relations to Niskavuori through them. She also gets angry with Siipirikko, because she has always been so close to Akusti and follows his orders above hers, unlike anyone else. When the girls start saying Siipirikko has been their real mother, Heta has had enough and throws her out; even Akusti can't help it.
Eventually Akusti grows old and worn by work. In his deathbed we see several dramatic scenes: the town fathers come to credit him once more, but still Heta questions what he has ever done; after guests leave Akusti tries to just once in his life command his wife - Heta think he's gone crazy; and finally, on his request, Siipirikko is there when he dies and Akusti confesses that (despite having always treated her like a daughter) she's the one he always loved.
Akusti's will is found - and with it large number of IOUs; he had helped everyone around without telling her. Reading the will there's the local official, a neighbor as his writer, Heta and her children. She protests hearing large sum is reserved for Siipirikko and when the IOUs come up Heta demands all debts to be collected. Until comes a huge one upon the neighbor who's there to take notes; Heta demands that as well but Jaakko says no. She asks why not and Jaakko says she knows, and he knows too; Akusti told in his deathbed. This is his father here.
And the same goes for all IOUs, demand the children... and finally Heta surrenders and begins to cry, perhaps first time since her wedding. When they try to comfort her, telling these things aren't to be mourned for, she answers: "My sorrows are my own. Akusti is gone."


Now What, Niskavuori? (movie title: Niskavuori Fights)(set 1944)

This is sequel to Bread of Niskavuori.
War has continued for years. It weights heavily on home front; with all able men in arms, farms are worked by women and old men. And those Niskavuori has are tired of Old Mistress' wages which can't at the time even equal neighbors. Ilona and Loviisa - now grown old and weary - have hard time running things.
And it gets much worse when the local priest, messenger of sorrow, one day comes to their door. Aarne has fallen.
Aarne's 17-year-old son Paavo is frustrated on being at home with women and elderly, but officials (doing favor to Loviisa) make sure he can't enlist underaged.
A stranger named Juhani Mattila arrives to Niskavuori to see Old Mistress; he is son of maid she chased away long ago. Loviisa tells him what happened and what his mother had not told - that Loviisa's late husband was his father. He on the other hand tells why he has come: his mother told to come here in great need and now he is in trouble; having in a moment of anger spoken too publicly against the war, special police wants to take him for questioning about treasonous activity. Loviisa takes him as boss of workers and covers for him as much as she can.
Martta fears Ilona ends up marrying this new man and Niskavuori gets a new master, robbing her and Aarne's children of their inheritance (as Aarne's property hasn't been settled, war keeping everything busy). Martta tries to convince officials and Aarne's brothers - with some success - that Loviisa can't take care of the farm and an independent caretaker should be appointed.
Juhani is found and arrested, but war ends and he's released.
Everyone gathers to Niskavuori to decide about what to do - how to sell the farm most people assume. But for one last time the Old Mistress settles things as she wants; she reveals that Juhani is halfbrother of her children and the only who hasn't already been given one's share of Niskavuori; and that her testament makes sure Niskavuori can't be sold and is to be held by Ilona and Juhani until Paavo is old enough to take it.
Having done this, Old Mistress of Niskavuori falls to sleep... eternally.

---

Oct/4/2010, 22:07 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 
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Those are plays Kaunisto? They would make a good movie series. I like family sagas.
Oct/5/2010, 11:03 Link to this post Send PM to Morwen Oronor
 
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Originally plays. As I wrote...
quote:

I'll open this with summary of Niskavuori plays/movies I've done along last month.

Niskavuori is a series of five plays written 1936-1953 of which there are numerous movie versions. The series is one of best known works of Finnish literature, but I must confess I haven't ever payed much attention to it. Now a series of old movies is on TV and I decided to get to know these and to introduce them to you.


Though you're not likely find these anywhere, unless they'll make new ones soon. We've had some classics remade lately, it's just matter of time when they'll make Niskavuori of this millennium.



---

Oct/8/2010, 20:06 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 
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You need to get someone to make them with English dialogue for TV. Nice.
Oct/9/2010, 12:12 Link to this post Send PM to Morwen Oronor
 
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Yesterday Finland had flag day of Aleksis Kivi (and Finnish literature).
So incase I haven't before (can't remember what I've done last year etc.) I'll tell you a bit about Kivi and his book Seven Brothers.

Aleksis Kivi lived 1834-1872, in age when Finnish high culture was born. Finnish rose to be official language equal to Swedish that had been the language of government as long as there'd been any. Nationalism was high - in an actually positive way - and artists of all kinds tried to raise spirits by showing the strength and honesty and other noble features of our people.

And then comes Kivi. As a huge achievement, he writes the first novel in Finnish. This could have high society applauding, except... What has this man done?! He mocks and shames the whole nation!
Seven Brothers is a tragicomedy of misadventures of poor and not very bright band of youngsters who, mostly of their own fauld, get in trouble with law, church and neighbors.

Being a milestone of our culture, it's been recognized much more positively long after author's death and with numerous movies, plays and even children's books has become perhaps the best known stories in this country, besides the national epic Kalevala.


I couldn't easily find a free download, but Seven Brothers is widely available in English.

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Oct/11/2010, 18:42 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 
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This simple folk song is something that hasn't come from Finnish mainstream artists since early 80's: a political protest song. We haven't had any because... well there's nothing to protest; people don't care about politics (turnouts keep falling). Sure it's the same everywhere, but every now and then some Green Day says something; not here.
So it's very refressing that rap artist Paleface - usually performing in English - made a tribute to 70's protest folk, listing how last decade has been in this country.

(I can't watch this myself, I hope the video is OK.)



(This is so full of puns that I can only give very approximate translation. I'm adding explanations of things referrd to.)


Helsinki - Shangri La

when wellfare state is created in Helsinki
facade builders are brough from Tallinn
hurahuhhahhei, where you get cheapest
that's how we make Helsinki to Shangri La

(It was criticized that repairing parliament building wasn't given to domestic company.)

let's wipe out bats and other parasites
in front of parliament burn storages
halleluijahhei, yells zero tolerance
celebrate security companies and FBS

(The Bat aka Bat Cave was iconic youth/rock center destroyed for a new mall couple years ago. National Railways' storages were a Helsinki historical landmark and there were protests when they to be taken down for an extension building for parliament; they were destroyed by a fire, assumably accidentally started by the protesters.)

over society flies conservative banner
safety cameras create atmosphere of fear
hurahuhhahhei, patronizing state
to jail with sticker planters and house invaders

why everyone knows Johanna Tukiainen
like three smiths' homeless Rumanian
halleluijahhei, to bonfire of vanities
it's 7 Days, Idols and MTV

(Tukiainen is our tabloid queen, originally a stripped harrassed by a minister. Three Smiths is a statue in central Helsinki. 7 Days is a weekly tabloid.)

bimbos have credit cards, enormous debts
forgotten already is late Veikko Hursti
hurahuhhahhei, throw away and buy a new one
visa, quick loan, bill mail, credit marking

(Hursti was a charity man, former homeless himself, known for Christmas of the Poor event.)

and in spring homeless are defrosted
to walk around but wont get rehab
halleluijahhei, Finland's substance policy
pams, pervitin, subutex and sunday

(It's been said addicts are just given drugs an not enough other therapy and help. There were complaints that certain things weren't available in sundays.)

Kurtse & Puoti and Pynnönen and Piippo
reminds of Lahti, hemohes and skiing
hurahuhhahhei, hint man's whisky bottle
undercover buying, snitch and KRP

(Various convicted businessmen. Lahti 2003 Skiing World Championships were the worst doping scandal in our history. Much talk about is police allowed to buy drugs etc. or pay for information. KRP is... our FBI, sort of.)

our immigrantion policy pisses on feet
if Timo Soini's traumas guarantee good voting
hurahuhhahhei, right wing populists
Halme, Halla-aho, Jörg Haider, Ku Klux Klan

(Extreme right is rising disturbingly, first time since 30's.)

AD/HD institute's brain electric mail went crazy
when Pekka-Eric Auvinen bough his 22
hurahuhhahhei, Holmlund's shotguns
Matti at Kauhajoki slaughtered more than ten

(2007 and 2008 school shootings. Minister Holmlund propably had something to do with gunlaws since then.)

when wellfare state is created in Helsinki
facade builders are brough from Tallinn
hurahuhhahhei, where you get cheapest
that's how we make Helsinki to Shangri La

---

Oct/24/2010, 21:07 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 
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The video is fine Kaunisto ... I enjoyed hearing the accent and the language flowing and thanks for the translation - as you say, unusual and refreshing for a country that is unaccustomed to protesting!

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Anything Goes
Oct/24/2010, 22:17 Link to this post Send PM to Petal Alderin
 
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I recognised the word "parasite" in there.
Interesting language.
Oct/26/2010, 7:52 Link to this post Send PM to Morwen Oronor
 
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Here's (hopefully) trailer for new Finnish comedy Lapland Odyssey:


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Oct/26/2010, 19:41 Link to this post Send PM to Kaunisto
 


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