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26 January 2019: The Diary of a Worker


The Diary of a Worker
Risto Jarva, 1967, 92 min, 35mm
Finnish with English subtitles

Released in the midst of an extremely grey period in the Finnish cinema, The Diary of a Worker was considered a revelation: the film had discovered realism, living people and vital milieu, none of them packaged in the trappings of entertainment; and what is more, Risto Jarva's work seemed to approach the standard of the best new European cinema. And it still holds up: its realism is not merely grey naturalism but a multi-levelled depiction in which dream, imagination, memories and various levels of reality converge. Over and above this, the film stands as a conscious compendium of turning-points in independent Finland: the Civil War of 1918, the traumatic wars, the history of the class struggle. The film renders particularly touching the strong presence of two people, a "marriage across class distinctions": a labourer (played by an amateur, the painter Paul Osipow) and an office worker (played by a professional, Selina Salo).

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