Awaken from Death (Kuolleista herännyt, 1975, TV) and Out to Borrow Matches (Tulitikkuja lainaamassa, 1980):

Maiju Lassila’s ‘Goryachie Finny’

 

Mia Öhman

 

Out to Borrow Matches (Tulitikkuja lainaamassa, 1980, directed by Risto Orko/Suomi-Filmi and Leonid Gaidai/Mosfilm) was the last of the three Finnish-Soviet co-production films. (The first two were Sampo in 1959 and Trust [Luottamus] in 1976.) Out to Borrow Matches (1910) is originally a novel of a Finnish revolutionary Maiju Lassila (1868–1918), humorously depicting a chaotic voyage of two peasants to the nearest town in the 19th–20th century Eastern Finland, under the Russian rule and during the Russification policy. The story was translated into Russian in the 1940s by Mikhail Zoschenko, and published in the Soviet Union together with another Lassila translation Awaken from Death (Kuolleista herännyt, 1916). Maiju Lassila was considered one of the possible authors for film co-productions from the 1950s on. The history of Sovexportfilm actions in Finland from 1945 tells its own story of constant development of cinematic relations and cooperation between the two countries; during the 1960s and 1970s, there was a notable change in the style of filmmaking in Finland – new social consciousness was shown on the screens – both in cinema and in television. The Television Theatre, a unit of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, started to produce high-quality social drama television films and serials, blurring the difference between cinema and television. An exquisite TV adaptation of Lassila’s Awaken from Death was made in 1975, and it represented Finland in Prix Italia. It must have spurred Suomi-Filmi’s enthusiasm to produce Out to Borrow Matches in the late 1970s.

 

Mia Öhman is writing her PhD thesis at the University of Helsinki on the Finnish-Soviet film relations during the Cold War. She also translates and edits subtitles for archival screenings of Soviet films, writes popular articles on cinema and serves on the editorial board of the Finnish film magazine Filmihullu.