A Finnish sniper is chained to a rock by his fellow soldiers. Not far away, a Russian captainis being driven off to face a court martial (read: execution). A friendly fire incident kills thecaptain’s captors and wounds him. A Lapp widow finds him and takes him back to her home totend to him. Meanwhile, the Finn manages to free himself, and also winds up at thewoman’s place. A prickly, multicultural friendship gradually develops between the three. Not aone understands…what the others are saying, which leads to misunderstandings both comic andotherwise. But the fundamental decency of the characters gradually overcomes all obstacles. Thisis low key, wry filmmaking, at times extraordinarily funny in its deadpan way, and alwaysenormously engaging. This is a gentle celebration of the human spirit that never gets boggeddown in sappy sentimentalism.
The same delicate touch behind the film itself also blesses the soundtrack. While neverbombastic, the 5.1 mix is completely immersive. The wind is most impressive, but the quietsounds of this quiet film are constantly whispering out of all speakers (rustling leaves, cracklingfire, buzzing insects, and so on). The left-right and front-rear placement is excellent. The music(of which there isn’t very much) and the dialogue are also very clean and distortion-free. Theonly fly in the ointment is a gurgle on the music in the opening minutes.
The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescsreen transfer is particularly strong when it comes to thecolour palette, which shifts from a cold steel blue to warm earth tones depending on the situation.There are no edge enhancement halos, and the contrasts are very good. The image is very sharpwhen the shots are close-ups, but subjects in long shot quickly lose definition.
The Making-of featurette, though recognizably promotional, is better than most of its kind,and, at 24 minutes, more substantial. It covers not only the making of the film but thephilosophy behind hit as well. The other extras are trailers: The Cuckoo, The ManWithout a Past, Masked and Anonymous and Respiro. The menu isbasic.
An excellent feature, well deserving of the festival prizes it has won. The extras aren’tgenerous, but are still more than I was expecting on this kind of release. And the sound issuperb.
Special Features List
- Making-of Featurette