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Calamari Union (1985)

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An exodus to a better life in Eira



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Title: Calamari Union (1985)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Timo Eränkö ...
Kari Heiskanen ...
Asmo Hurula ...
Sakke Järvenpää ...
Sakari Kuosmanen ...
Frank Armoton (as Saku Kuosmanen)
Dave Lindholm ...
Homeless man
Mikko Mattila ...
Pate Mustajärvi ...
Tuomari Nurmio ...
Taxi driver / bum (as Hannu Nurmio)
Pirkka-Pekka Petelius ...
Matti Pellonpää ...
Pertti Sveholm ...
Martti Syrjä ...
Pantse Syrjä ...
Markku Toikka ...


Fourteen desperate men named Frank, band together to escape from a repressive section of Helsinki. An English-speaking non-Frank named Pekka joins the barroom conspirators, whose avoidance of last names, and any affect, help them outsmart overwhelming forces as they sneak through dark subway tunnels and alleys, hoping against despair to reach magical seaside Eira. The Calamari Unionists take advantage of unending night to venture their intrepid journey. Written by David Stevens

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




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Release Date:

8 February 1985 (Finland)  »

Filming Locations:


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Did You Know?


'Aki Kaurismaki' said in an interview that this is the only film he has made where he either was drunk or had a serious hangover while shooting. See more »


The Director is seen in reflection of Frank's (Sakke Järvenpää) sunglasses in "My friend got sick, can you help us" scene. See more »


[first lines]
Frank: Gentlemen! I don't want to tire you and especially myself by going through those many reasons which make life completely impossible in this part of the city. We all know the circumstances forced on us in our early years: crowded homes, ignorance and hunger. Not to mention the bad air conditioning in the busses with their irregular timetables. In this part of the city there are more hills than anywhere else in the world. Loose-running kids and dogs make it impossible to move in the ...
See more »


Featured in Scenes Under the Midnight Sun (1987) See more »


Stand by my
Performed by Some Franks
Written by Ben E. King
Composed by Ben E. King
See more »

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User Reviews

A not entirely successful mix of absurd randomness, scathing social critique and eccentric, deadpan humor
7 October 2008 | by (Greece) – See all my reviews

Kaurismaki followed on the dour and heavy drama of his debut Crime and Punishment with the often funny, significantly more light-hearted, absurdist fare of Calamari Union. Fifteen guys named Frank and their retarded companion Pekka (who speaks English for some reason) decide to leave their seedy downtown neighborhood and dead-end lives behind and move to the suburb of Eira, on the other side of the city. Eira immediately acquires a quasi-mythic status, equal parts promised land and elysian fields, and their trip through the hostile, soulless city landscape is beset with hardships worthy to a trip filled with such religious allegories.

There's not much of a plot to speak of. The Franks make their way through the city and is every man out for himself. Once in a while they stop to comment on their surroundings, sleep in phone booths, trees and other strange places, offer nuggets of wisdom about vanity, inactivity, time and age, part scathing social critique and part insights into human nature; they also stop to hijack members of the parliament, a hearse, get free rides in a taxi or on top of a car, sleep in a beach or under a table and last but not least, die funny or just plain random deaths.

That is Calamari Union in a nutshell and there lie both its charms and failures. It has the improvised feeling of a freejazz piece - like them, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. It can be inspired, infectiously cool and funny but it can also be meandering and aimless. You take the good with the bad I guess.

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