Scen.: Peter von Bagh. F.: Lassa Naukarinen. M.: Jyrki Rapp. Prod.: Heikki Seppälä per Yleisradio, TV1, Viihdetoimitus . DCP. D.: 30’. Col.
The portrait of a national icon as an old, lost and lonely man, Olavi Virta was the greatest voice of iskelmä. Like so many great Finns, Virta ended up an alcoholic – with the welfare state as well as his erstwhile audience probably considering this as little more than the way these things go. Which is probably the reason why people all over Finland went ballistic when Olavi Virta was aired for the first time: They couldn’t take that sad sight of iskelmä’s greatest voice, the incarnation of postwar wealth and glory, in such a sorry state – sensing that it was their uncaringness cum self-righteousness that made him into this pale shadow of a once formidable presence. They accused von Bagh of exploiting Virta, but if one listens to his questions, not only the way he phrases them but also the tone in his voice, one feels his compassion and indignation – his anger at a culture that accepts life stories like this one. After Olavi Virta, von Bagh couldn’t get any film projects off the ground for several years.