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The Glory and Misery of Human Life (1988)

Ihmiselon ihanuus ja kurjuus (original title)
Two young lovers, Anna and Martti, are split apart but are reunited many years later when their lives have changed considerably. Anna is a war widow; Martti a writer, is married, and has five children.


Matti Kassila


Matti Kassila, F.E. Sillanpää (novel)
7 wins. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Lasse Pöysti ... Martti Hongisto
Liisamaija Laaksonen Liisamaija Laaksonen ... Anna Lepaa
Tuula Nyman Tuula Nyman ... Laimi Hongisto
Antti Litja ... Jalmari Roimala
Johanna Kerttula Johanna Kerttula ... Hagar Hongisto
Nina Sallinen ... Asta Hongisto
Jarmo Perälä Jarmo Perälä ... Hongisto jr.
Antti Vierikko Antti Vierikko ... Eero Hongisto
Jasper Pääkkönen ... Arvi Hongisto
Nina Jääskeläinen Nina Jääskeläinen ... Hongisto's Maid
Mikko Rasila Mikko Rasila ... Veikko, the doctor
Konsta Mäkelä Konsta Mäkelä ... Iivo Selkänen
Leena Rapola Leena Rapola ... Maire Roimala
Olli Johansson Olli Johansson ... Viljo-Baby
Raili Tiensuu Raili Tiensuu ... Roimala's Housekeeper


Two young lovers, Anna and Martti, are split apart but are reunited many years later when their lives have changed considerably. Anna is a war widow; Martti a writer, is married, and has five children.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Did You Know?


Featured in Lasse Pöysti omassa persoonassa (1997) See more »


Written by Jacques Offenbach
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User Reviews

Reminiscence and regret, a masterpiece of Finnish cinema
9 August 2000 | by AldenGSee all my reviews

Literally "The Loveliness and Wretchedness of Human Life", the title of this film might translate more fluidly to English as "Reminiscence and Regret".

Based on the eponymous reminiscences (1945) of the Nobel-winning Finnish author F.E. Sillanpää, this is one of the finest films ever made in Finland. It is unfathomable to this reviewer that this and other films by Kassila (see "Niskavuori" for another of almost the same caliber) have never to my knowledge been distributed internationally -- at least they do not seem ever to have reached the United States. It is remarkable to compare the films that have been so distributed, for instance those of the Kaurismäki brothers, to this and other works of greater substance that have languished in ill-deserved obscurity.

"Reminiscence and Regret" opens with a scene of Matti sitting with his family on a Sunday afternoon in summer, a scene of clench-jawed domestic tranquility forced to the breaking point. The silence and tension are palpable. The creak of a floorboard under a rocking chair is tantamount to a statement. An argument erupts, a row ensues, and in the aftermath, Matti sneaks away -- not for the first time, we gather -- into the white sub-Arctic night for an odyssey of solitude and reminiscence.

Gradually we learn that he married far beneath his station in life, wearing his choice almost as a badge of defiance (or might it be spite?) over the years. As the plot unfolds, we are introduced to the other woman in his youth and we learn about the circumstances, decisions, and misunderstandings that shaped their destinies.

Along the way we are taken on a meticulously authentic tour of Finnish interiors, both architectural and psychological, in an unblinking look at the melancholy and fatalism of Finnish life in the first half of the 1900's.

One can practically smell the countryside, the walls and floors of the homes and hotels, the wine and vodka and rich food of the carousals we witness... I can recall no richer cinematic record of the period and strata of Finnish life into which this film delves. There is a half hilarious, half horrific comic sequence in which we follow the derailing of neighbors sent to fetch the errant Matti back home.

But much of the film concentrates on remembrance and reminiscence as Matti retraces the events, decisions, and external circumstances that led him to the life he has lived and, eventually, to this odyssey of reconsideration.

At the end of the film, one feels that nothing could have transpired differently. Kassila's penchant for understatement and distillation are everywhere evident in "Reminiscence and Regret". This reviewer has not seen enough of his films to know whether this is the culminating masterpiece of his career, but it is certainly one of the culminating masterpieces of Finnish cinema.

One can only hope that "Ihmiselon ihanuus ja kurjuus" will someday be made available to the rest of the world, because it deserves and would easily gain admission to the ranks of international classics.

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Release Date:

16 December 1988 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Splendeur et misère de la vie humaine See more »


Box Office


FIM6,221,785 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Neofilmi See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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