Väinö Linna’s novel Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Solder) about the Continuation War (1941-1944) between Finland and the Soviet Union, published in 1954, is a national classic. Edvin Laine directed the adaption of the book in 1955, and in some circles, it’s considered untouchable. (Rauni Mollberg directed another adaption in 1985, which didn’t receive as much praise.)
In the comprehensive school, we were recommended to read the novel. I never did. But in the past week, I’ve been devouring the book, I attended the invitational premiere and in the morning, I woke up in the middle of a war scene.
On Thursday evening, Tennispalatsi movie theater in Helsinki was closed from the public, and a red carpet was unrolled in front of the entrance. An orchestra played marching music to accompany the steps of the invitational guests dressed in dark suits and flamboyant dresses; actors, musicians, pop stars, politicians were on the guest list. Sparkling wine was served from the small bottle with a straw, and those guests who were to step in the crossfire of flashes hurriedly drank their bubbly before putting on their poses and smiles.
The director of the film, Aku Louhimies, had a vision remake this film for the audience of today. “Nobody questions why are you making Macbeth again,” he said to me when I was wondering if we really need another version of the story. Louhimies makes sense, though. The younger generation of today hardly knows the book and even a smaller part know about the movie.
Esko Leinonen, 90, a war veteran who served a year in the Continuation War, has read the book three times. “It’s a good book,” he said. Then he became serious. “I hope that the new generation will get the point that war is absolutely unnecessary,” he said. “It’s a total catastrophe.”
The premiere was about to begin, and the veterans were escorted to the Scape theater on the top floor.
Finland Today will publish a review of the film on Monday.
‘Tuntematon sotilas’ premieres in cinemas October 27.