Risto Jarva, one of Finland's leading directors, has been awarded Finland's top prize for this, his sixth picture. The film has similarities to Jarva's earlier and influential A Worker's Diary in both theme and treatment. One Man's War is semi-documentary with most of the cast of non-professionals playing themselves in the kind of work they do.
A Finnish workman, Erik Suomies, decides to improve his position in society. With a bank loan, he buys a mechanical excavator, and with his wife and child and a friend, Peter, sets up home in an old bus. With excavator and bus, the group trek around Finland from one work-site to another. Within two years, Erik has worked himself out, ground down by the demands of capitalism. He moves to Sweden.
Although the film has tragic elements, it is not a tragedy. The tone is too matter-of-fact and never despairing. Erik and his wife have learned the rules of capitalist games but their personal dignity and integrity will not allow them to obey them. They pick up the pieces and go on.
'The task of Jarva's poetry is to make the abhorrent bearable.'
Christer Kilhman, Filmihullu