Monday, April 19, 2010

Finnish-Soviet Kalevala Movie

The above clip is the trailer for the Finnish-Soviet 1959 movie 'Sampo'

Interestingly enough, the storyline in this movie dosn't follow that of the Kalevala that has been published, though elements of it are directly derived from it. However, the Kalevala text compiled by Elias Lönrott is a limited selection of the whole body of Kalevala, that were manipulated in order for the storyline to work. It is my guess that the story which the movie follows is still based on a story form the Kalevala, but not from one which is available today. Also, as the Kalevala was an oral history, much has been lost.

The storyline of the movie must be very difficult for a foreigner to follow- the concept of what a sampo is is hardly dealt with, being a familiar concept to Finnish viewers. The Sampo is in Finnish mythology the 'lid' of the sky, and a sort of pole, which when turns produces riches such as grain and gold. In my mind, this looks something like an spinning umbrella. The holy grail (christian) and Cornucopia (greek) play similar roles in the mythologies of other cultures.

The dialogue in the movie is structured in the same way that it is in the Kalevala- this is not apparent in the English subtitles as they are not written to rhyme in the same way. For me, the movie also gives insight into the way that the world of the Kalevala looked, (though clearly it is not accurate, as it is only a movie), it is hard to find sources showing costume and general lifestyle elements of archaic Finland, where the movie is set. To someone not Finnish it would also be insightful to see the landscape in which the story took place.

Some of the scenes echo the same aesthetic in that of Axel Gallen-Kallelas work. (see previous post) Once I finish documenting most of my visual sources I would love to work with some stills from this film.

Movie (with English subtitles)
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Also, check out the US movie poster!

The names of the Finnish-Russian actors have been renanamed as Americans! ie, Andris Oshin is now Jon Powers... which I suppose is understandable considering the time period, but I think its a shame that the only way that the movie was released internationally was as a horror, not a cultural experience.

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