Peter von Bagh, Elina Katainen, Iikka Vehkalahti

[L’uomo nell’ombra] M.: Eero Nieminen. Prod.: Epidem, YLE . DCP. D.: 165’. Col.

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

Otto Wille Kuusinen (1881-1964) remains among the most disputed characters of Finnish history. He was one of the young nation’s leading communists – who turned traitor to his people by becoming president of Stalin’s puppet state, the Finnish Democratic Republic, namely the so-called Terijoki Government, and later Chairmen of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Karelo-Finnish SSR. Till his end Kuusinen remained a man of power, among other ways, as a member of the USSR’s Politburo – who was so afraid of power that he never did anything in his power to protect those close to him from the wrath of power. That he was known for being vengeful and unforgiving is but the coin’s flip-side. So much for the legend in all its darkness. Von Bagh never fully believed in all this, sensed 20th century contradictions galore, was keenly aware that Kuusinen’s story was much more complicated – a puzzle whose parts, strangely enough, can fit in ever different ways making for a variety of different pictures. To give but one example for the many idiosyncrasies to be found in Kuusinen’s life and work: he was co-editor of Osnovy marksizma-leninizma (1961-62), the then-canonical interpretation of Soviet philosophy – but also author of an obscure study detailing the connection between Marxism and Finland’s national epic, the Kalevala (1849). Or take the probably most infamous part of the Kuusinen-legend: the Terijoki Government – which, as von Bagh shows, did so little that it produced merely a few pieces of paper filled mainly with minutiae of brief meetings where seemingly nothing of consequence was discussed. Mies varjossa is a prime piece of serious, investigative political filmmaking with an uncommon philosophical edge, realised in three distinctly different acts – a comedy of sorts, if sombre and grim.

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