In rural Sweden of the early 1950s, little Elina goes to school again after recovering from tuberculosis, the same illness that has killed her father a few years earlier. Elina's family ... See full summary »
In rural Sweden of the early 1950s, little Elina goes to school again after recovering from tuberculosis, the same illness that has killed her father a few years earlier. Elina's family belongs to Finnish-speaking Finns frowned upon by a staunch schoolmistress who starts hounding Elina for questioning her authority. Elina's mother, sister, and a liberal young male teacher all try to mediate the ensuing battle of wills between Elina and Miss Holm. Elina finds consolation in wandering out on the dangerous marshlands to have imaginary conversations with her dead father. Written by
The film was chosen as the Finnish candidate for the foreign Oscar award, but it was unable to compete for the Finnish Jussi awards, because it was determined to be more Swedish than Finnish film (52% vs. 48%). See more »
I saw this at the Newport Film Festival in 2003 and am bewildered and dismayed that it is not (yet?) out in DVD. First of all, viewers unfamiliar with this geographical area will be introduced, through stunning cinematography, to the magical landscape of this part of northern Sweden. If you thought you could not love a bog, you will start searching, like me, for a coffee table book on "Bogs, Fens, and Marshes," (I made that up -someone publish this book, please!) The story is compelling, thoughtfully and superbly rendered by cast, writer, director, and all involved. A little girl struggles with grief over the loss of her father, "talking" to him in the bogs she is forbidden to visit (they are very dangerous if you don't know how to navigate them), but knows he loved. Life is made especially hard for her in school by a female teacher totally lacking in compassion and understanding of the loss she is dealing with, and who seems fixated on her students speaking Swedish ONLY, rather than Finnish, which many of them speak as their native language. The relationship between the little girl and her teacher comes to an extremely gripping, moving, touching climax which will undoubtedly surprise the audience. Humanity pours out of this film, especially this "stand-off" between teacher and pupil which washes the audience in awe of what film can do. I did not even realize this film was for children. I am 42, a movie connoisseur, especially foreign films, and this is on my top ten list. It is a gem, and why it has not come out on DVD is a total mystery to me. If anyone knows how to obtain a copy of this film, please post this information! A movie of similar caliber that I would suggest is "The Color of Milk," (Norway/Sweden) (2002).
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