Close Up

25 January 2019: Stolen Death


Stolen Death
Nyrki Tapiovaara, 1938, 100 min
Finnish with English subtitles

"Helsinki is depicted as a city of empty streets and closed windows. It is the perfect setting for a melodrama [and] Tapiovaara enlivens each scene with his own idiosyncratic quirks and fancies. [A] strain of visual irony persists throughout the film." – Peter Cowie

"A thriller set in turn-of-the-century Helsinki, Stolen Death uses elements of German expressionism to tell the story of Finnish resistance fighters smuggling arms to overthrow the Tsarist occupiers of Finland. Tapiovaara stresses the divided loyalties of the Finnish bourgeoisie, torn between preserving their privileged economic position and taking a risky stand for an independent Finland. Stolen Death can be viewed as a thinly disguised protest against the rise of the fascist movement in Finland in the 1930s. Tapiovaara's allegorical indictment of class inequality and the suppression of free speech and political expression, coupled with his death at 28 fighting the Russians in the Winter War of 1939-1940, earned him almost a mythic status in Finland." – BAMPFA

Part of Antti Alanen and Ehsan Khoshbakht's Masterpieces of Finnish Cinema season