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EARTH, OUR SINFUL SONG

Finland, 1973 (MIFF 1974)

Director: Rauni Mollberg

Earth, Our Sinful Sonh is adapted from a novel of the same name by Timo K. Mukka, a young Lapp who was only 19 years old when the book was published and became a literary sensation in Finland. Rauni Mollberg. a former TV director making his feature film debut, has filmed the book in a village in southern Lapland, and in doing so has made the first feature about these isolated people. The story centres on 19 vear old Martta, of the Makela household, in the wilderness settlement of Siskonranta. The year is 1947, but the shortages felt in the rest of Finland during this lean period make no great impression on the villagers whose lives have always been lived close to the poverty level. Martta is an unspoilt child. who depends on her instincts. When she falls in love with an itinerant Lapp reindeer herdsman who visits the settlement, the community exerts its cruellest pressures to force her to conform to its narrow-minded morality.

Through the development of Martta from child to woman, we are able to glimpse a full year's cycle of life in the village. It is a basic, earthy world, and often cruel by our standards. The people live lusty, violent lives under extremely harsh conditions. However, hand in hand with these seemingly primitive aspects go the beauty of the land, the splendour of setting sun on an autumn lake, the spectacle of a reindeer herd in full gallop, the timeless grandeur of the winter snow.

The film was made under hazardous conditions. There was no road to the village where it was shot, so the crew often found themselves on foot, carrying their equipment. Long sequences were shot with temperatures at minus 30 centigrade. However, the local population welcomed the film crew, and almost every inhabitant of the village contributed to the production.

Earth, Our Sinful Song is a unique film, almost an ethnographic record of a distinctive cultural tradition which has remained virtually unchanged for centuries.

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