Esko and Jaana are two children who often visit an elderly bachelor and former soldier who lives in their small village. The old corporal becomes very fond of both children and writes in his will that whoever marries first will inherit 500 riks from him. Years pass and Esko grows up to become a shoemaker like his father, Herr Topias. Frau Jaana, now a fraulein, has been Topias' foster child since her mother died and her father went off to sea; Esko's mother, Frau Martta, a temperamental and strong fraulein, decides to marry Esko off before Jaana so he will inherit the 500 riks. Frau Martta sends Esko outside the village to look for a bride, an adventure that will prove most eventful.
"Nummisuutarit" ( The Village Shoemakers ) was directed by Herr Erkki Karu after his "Koskenlaskijan Morsian" ( The Logroller's Bride ) (1923) and was just as successful as the first film both in Finland and in neighboring countries. It was based on a very popular Finnish play by Herr Alesksis Kivi and, since its premiere in the 19th century, it gets staged every year.
If "Koskenlaskijan Morsian" was a powerful melodrama, "Nummisuutarit" was a completely different film, namely, a Finnish regional comedy that proves the ability of Herr Karu to adapt easily to any film genre. This is a Finnish road movie with a simple minded hero searching for a bride and a big fortune. The film is full of local color and amusing Finnish characters and customs.
The peculiar Finnish sense of humour and its idiosyncrasies are sometimes hard to comprehend if you're a German aristocrat but some subjects transcend nationality; namely the ironic look at religion, matriarchy and ambition. Esko, a clumsy, innocent youngster is the type of character to be found in classical stories from all over the world.
The early virtuosity showed by Herr Karu in "Koskenlaskijan Morsian" can be seen too in "Nummisuutarit" but this time in an even more elaborate way technically and demonstrates Herr Karu's mastery of the camera and special effects. There are clever double exposures and inventive camera-work in the scene of Esko's drunkenness and the story goes back and forth in time to show what might happen if different courses of action are followed. This is not a conventional comedy but Herr Karu shows a command of narrative devices and rhythm common in classic comedy.
And now, if you'll allow me, I must temporarily take my leave because this German Count must continue his quest for bachelorhood.
Herr Graf Ferdinand Von Galitzien http://ferdinandvongalitzien.blogspot.com
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