Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Laestadian Films

I'd like to start a list of films that are about Laestadianism in any way. If you know of any, please post them in the comments, and I'll add them to the list.

So far, I only know of these:

Popular Music from Vittula (Populärmusik från Vittula) (2004)
Forbidden Fruit (Kielletty hedelmä) (2009)
The Kautokeino Rebellion (Kautokeino-Opproret) (2009)

Can we add to this list?

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Forbidden Fruit

Seems there is a new Swedish-Finnish film called "Forbidden Fruit" that features a Laestadian theme, or perhaps more accurately, an ex-Laestadian theme. I wonder if the film is based on a book, and whether it is woefully exaggerated. Of course what seems plausible in the film may depend on the how much one knows about Laestadianism. As many of you have no doubt experienced, non-Laestadians tend to disbelieve the tenets of the religion, as if those ideas belong to an earlier century and couldn't possibly be embraced by modern, 21st century people. Heh. Little do they know!

I look forward to hearing reviews from our European readers. Meanwhile, here is Variety magazine's write-up.

Two 18-year-olds from apostolic Lutheran families wind up sampling "Forbidden Fruit" in Finnish director Dome Karukoski's ("Home of the Dark Butterflies") melodramatic coming-of-ager. Offering a superficial look at the strict fundamentalist beliefs of his country's 110,000-strong Laestadian community, a sect that takes the Bible literally and prohibits contraceptives, television, alcohol, rhythmic dancing and premarital sex, pic is always watchable but seldom entirely plausible or emotionally satisfying. A domestic theatrical release is slated for mid-February; fests and tube constitute best bets for export.

Sassy brunette Maria (Amanda Pilke) leaves her repressive home in Northern Ostrobothnia to experience the pleasures of the flesh in Helsinki. She figures she can always repent and be welcomed back to the fold ("All your sins forgiven in the name and blood of Christ") per Laestadian liturgy. When community elders dispatch Maria's prissy blonde best friend Raakel (Marjut Maristo) to save her from eternal damnation, they fail to consider Raakel's own vulnerabilities. Thesping throughout tends toward the histrionic. Tuomo Hutri's fine widescreen camerawork does a better job depicting the capital's worldly temptations than Aleksi Bardy's script. Costumes and makeup sometimes feel at odds with the story.

I had to laugh at that last comment. I don't know how 18-year old Laestadian girls dress in Ostrobothnia, but a reviewer would find the attire of most OALC girls QUITE at odds with religious modesty.

Friday, October 05, 2007


One of the few things that I think Laestadians do well is the aesthetic of beauty in plainness. There is a quiet beauty in a plain, white-painted wooden country church adorning a stark prairie landscape. A not-so-quiet, yet equally subtle beauty in seeing a large family of young children sharing a pew on Sunday morning. The beauty of young women with fresh-scrubbed faces and cotton print dresses. Of elders chanting mournfully in Finnish before ambling forward to receive communion.

I was reminded of this luminousness last weekend when my wife and I went to see the movie "Once." Set in Ireland, it captured "a guy" and "a girl" with simple dreams and ordinary challenges. Similar to Sweet Land there is a sub-theme of the immigration experience (in this case "the girl" is a first generation Czech immigrant). Yet throughout the film plainness and ordinariness is suffused by a quiet dignity, basic goodness, humor, and of course great music.

I recommend this film. It is rated "R" solely for language. I don't find this problematic, but if you do this is your warning. :-) Below are links to the film's web site and blog:

Once Official web site
Once Official Blog


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Sweet Land

I hope everyone was able to spend Valentine's Day with their loved ones.

I'd like to heartily recommend the movie Sweet Land. Not only did I find it an excellent film and a poignant love story, but I found myself coming out of the theater thinking, "this is how Laestadian community could be, and should be."

Sweet Land is not about Laestadians. The main characters, Inge and Olaf, are immigrant farmers in 1920s rural Minnesota. However, their simple values, ties with the land, and the power of their tight knit church and community were all things that resonated with my Laestadian upbringing.

As unique individuals who remain true to their hearts over and against rigid and provincial community values, Inge and Olaf face many of the same issues that folks thinking about leaving the Laestadian community might face --including shunning and ostracising by the only community they have.

Unlike the bleakness of Laestadianism, however, this film promises hope and reconciliation. Without giving too much away, I'll just say that this movie affirms the notion that listening to one's heart --while bearing a high price-- yields a bountiful harvest in both self and neighbor.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Favorite Movies?

From a friend in Finland:
I was asked to start a thread about favorite movies, so let's talk about favorite movies then! :) I like the Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. In fact I happened to see his latest movie "Volver" last Saturday. I maybe don't agree with all of his opinions, he seems to have an axe to grind with the Catholic church, which I don't have, and he seems to have a rather negative view on men (although he's male himself), but he takes up difficult themes in his movies and opens a view to the life of people you don't normally meet. For example, I can't remember one single movie of him that didn't have any prostitutes in it.
In general, I tend to like historical movies, especially WWII movies, or any movies that handle about human tragedies. I'm not interested in war as such, but rather on its impact on human lives and human fates.
When talking about movies on this site, it maybe should be mentioned that the world's first movie made by Laestadians was released in 2005 when a group of young people from the Finnish OALC equivalent decided to make a movie with a medieval setting and a Christian message. In my opinion, it turned out pretty well, considering it was done by amateur forces. The reactions among the Laestadians varied a lot, some condemned it and demanded repentance from those involved while other were very positive. It was shown on a few occasions in some small movie theaters and later a dvd was released (with Swedish and English subtitles). The movie has its own site (in Finnish):