Movie Monday #94 – Summer Challenge, vol. 2

20.06.2013

Another new one for Movie Monday Challenge #94: Maunu Kurkvaara was a true auteur in the spirit of the French New Wave. He pretty much wrote, directed and edited (among other things) all of his own films. Between 1955 and 1986 he directed about twenty feature films. These films have never been released on dvd, only a couple of them were released on vhs way back when, and they are hardly ever seen on Finnish television not to mention cinemas. Fortunately, I was able to get a vhs copy of Kurkvaara’s 1969 film Punatukka (Redhead) and to get some kind of idea what Kurkvaara’s films are all about. Punatukka tells the story of a young working class girl called Tutu (Tarja Markus) who lives in Helsinki and works in a factory. Work is dreary but luckily Tutu has a friend at the work place and all the women in the factory seem to form a close-knit community. Tutu wants to live, have fun and be free but she also dreams of a boyfriend. Tutu’s life is turned upside down when her roommate commits suicide without any explanation. This makes Tutu question and ponder her own life and what it’s all about.

The film is understated and realistic. There is not a hint of melodrama. However, the point of the film is quite underlined in the end. Tutu learns something crucial about herself and possibly finds meaning in her life. The most interesting part of the film, at least for me, is the period when it was filmed. The streets of Helsinki and especially Kallio neighbourhood looked so different and yet so familiar over forty years ago. Women’s sexual liberation had by then reached even Northern Europe which is also evident from the film. On the whole, it’s the feel of the sixties that makes this a pleasant and beautiful film.

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