Peter von Bagh

Scen.: Peter von Bagh. F.: Lasse Naukkarinen. M.: Esteri Tuovinen. Int.: Olavi Virta, Matti Jurva, Tauno Palo, Esa Pakarinen, Ansa Ikonen, Markus-setä, Repe Helismaa, Kipparikvartetti, Harmony Sisters, Henry Theel, Korpraali Möttönen. Prod.: Yleisradio, TV1, Viihdetoimitus. . DCP. 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

Finland is the greatest tango nation on this planet, aside from Argentina. Accordingly, the dance pavilion is a key space of communal life. To quote von Bagh: it’s “at the nexus of nature and civilization, town and country, dream and reality. Tenderness, toughness, seriousness bordering on moroseness, and joy derived from a flask ingeniously concealed in a jacket or a trouser pocket. Tensions coming to a dramatic head in the sense of smell: perfume, tobacco, spirits and beer sanitised with breath mints, and sweat”. Sinitaivas – Matka muistojen maisemaan was made in praise of that locus’ common magic, and its heart: iskelmä – Finnish popular music of the 40s to the 60s which is a unique mix of pop music, torch songs, tango, crooning and chanson, resulting in some of the most beautiful original melodies and lyrics ever cherished by millions (personal favourite: Kotkan ruusu, be it sung by Pauli Räsänen, Eino Grön, Paula Koivuniemi or Arja Saijonmaa), as well as masses of cover versions quite a few of which are far superior to their originals (Kari Tapio’s version of Toto Cutugno’s L’italiano called Olen suomalainen, both from 1983, to quote a somewhat later example of echt iskemä-genius). And as the karaoke-screenings each year at the Midnight Sun Film Festival show: this is a passion passed on through the generations – when ladies in their sixties howl Tapsaaaaaaaa!!!! in appreciation of the incomparable Tapio ‘Tapsa’ Rautavaara while their grandchildren do some serious booty-swinging to his tune, then one knows what popular culture really means. Yet, as the beginning of Sinitaivas – Matka muistojen maisemaan shows: This is a love that needs care – just like the dilapidated pavilion one sees. Ever the wise man and caustic, von Bagh admonishes in the end that the pavilion alone isn’t enough: iskelmä needs a certain attitude – swaying your hips lightly to ABBA or stomping around to some humppa doesn’t do it.


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