Sog.: liberamente tratto dalla pièce omonima di Jean-Paul Sartre. Sc.: Aki Kaurismäki. F.: Matti Kurkikangas. M.: Outi Harjupatana, Mari Ropponen. Scgf.: Risto Karhula. Int.: Matti Pellonpää (Hugo), Kati Outinen (Jessica), Sulevi Peltola (Hoederer), Kaija Pakarinen (Olga), Pertti Sveholm (Louis), Kari Väänänen (Ivan), Pirkka-Pekka Petelius (Slick), Aake Kalliala (Georges), Esko Nikkari (Karsky). Prod.: Hannu Kahakorpi per Yleisradio TV1 / Sputnik Oy . DCP. Col.
Why did we choose Les Mains sales? Peter von Bagh really loved this ‘invisible’ film by Aki Kaurismäki, and he had asked me for years to convince Aki to bring it to Bologna. The miracle of seeing the film at Il Cinema Ritrovato happens this year, in honor and in memory of Peter and thanks to Aki’s generosity. The screening is the seal of friendship between our festival and the Midnight Sun Film Festival, founded and organized by Aki and Peter with unflagging enthusiasm and a true love of cinema.
Gian Luca Farinelli
Likaiset kädet is Aki Kaurismäki’s sole television movie. It was shot in seven days on 16mm stock – video he refuses to touch. The cast was a dream team in the most complete casting of the director’s trusted ensemble. This film has also special status as Kaurismäki’s only period movie. The Sartrean irony of history turns out to have a ghostly affinity with Kaurismäki’s Weltanschauung.
Essential here is the concept of the sketch, dismantling the heavy obligation of illustration. Kaurismäki does not design sets for the milieu or the period cinematically or even with traditional theatrical means. Les Mains sales is a skilled game of opposites, a blend of freedom and almost pathetic fidelity. Hugo is played by Matti Pellonpää. His, and the other actors’, way of conveying the dialogue is laconic recital by rote – with minuscule oddities and oblique deviations. It is Sartre read like a telephone directory. In a way Kaurismäki has recorded a rehearsal for Les Mains sales.
Many elements in the movie have been taken directly from Sartre’s play, and often these elements seem most Kaurismäki-like. Meanwhile the director has added his own signature everywhere, as he seems to add something of his own to his actors’ images and his cinematographers’ shots: a surprising twist, a touch signaling a strange direction or some suddenly injected inconsistent and often anachronistic nuance. Which is why each shot, whether quoted or original, is interesting, as are the performances that remain hidden beneath almost immovable masks. The issues are serious. You have to prove to comrades that you are able to kill and die if the party tells you to.
The sense of space is tense and interesting in spite of the limitations due to the tight production schedule. When Hugo, having escaped from prison, turns up all of a sudden at Olga’s (Kaija Pakarinen) place, the sense of freedom is instantly strange: “In prison I was at least able to touch the walls”. A feeling of vertigo emerges from the set-up indicated in the title. Everything takes place in almost entirely windowless interiors and ugly rooms where political duties resembling chess moves are discussed. Even the most private word is not innocent but located in the same force field as the political power play and the law of weapons. They are all both systematic and arbitrary circumstances of life in a most profound way.
Peter von Bagh, Aki Kaurismäki, Karisto Oy, Hämeenlinna 2006
Da: Sputnik Oy