30. September 2006

Klangraum Krems Minoritenkirche

Juha Anssi Tikanmäki Film Orchestra

Director: Aki Kaurismäki
FIN/GER 1999, black and white, 78min, Silent Movie


Aki Kaurismäki’s film “Juha” premiered in 1999 provoked controversial reactions from critics. Some praised its cinematic purity, others criticised the lack of originality. The fact is that Kaurismäki made a black-and-white silent movie seventy years after it was replaced by sound film. The plot is based on the novel “Juha” by Juani Aho, published in 1911 and adapted to screen several times, and contains a rather trivial tale of seduction. To see “Juha” exclusively as a dip into the era of silent movies is to miss the point. Kaurismäki situated the plot in the second half of the twentieth century and ironically brings countless cinematic references and symbols into play. Furthermore, the multiple abstentions – from sound, colour and an original plot – direct the viewer back to the images themselves. But unlike historical directors of silent films, Kaurismäki does not extend the reduction to the monumental, exaggerated melodramatic acting style or effusive emotionality. In order to give the spectators access to the emotional state of the characters in spite of the simplicity of the images, Kaurismäki focuses on music. He characterised “Juha” as “a silent film with music”. As composer he chose Anssi Tikanmäki, whose soundtrack is a furious mixture of rock, humppa, Finnish tangos, French chansons and orchestral elements that support Kaurismäki’s pictures. This explosive music, performed live by Tikanmäki and his Film Orchestra, not only replaces spoken dialogue and stands on an equal footing with Kaurismäki’s cinematic language, it also emphasises its intention: “to see common things in a new and strange way”.

© Marja-Leena Hulzkauen

© Marja-Leena Hulzkauen