Daily Projections, 5-17-2019: Linnaisten Vihreä Kamari (1945)

Title: Linnaisten Vihreä Kamari
Director: Valentin Vaala
Country of Origin: Finland
Year: 1945
Screening format: DVD
Setting: home
First viewing? no

Linnaisten Vihreä Kamari is the anti-Vaala film in some ways. Vaala, who so often imbues his films with light (even the ones that take place at night, e.g. Ihmiset Suviyössä, are set in the summer when it is basically never dark), instead let’s the darkness play around a bit here. A little bit horror, a little bit romance, almost every bit gothic. What’s in a name? To the Littow family, quite a bit apparently, even though it may not even be there’s to begin with. Snooty relatives and con artists all vying for a piece of the action when it comes to the beautiful Littow girls and their even more beautiful inheritance. Regina Linnanheimo plays the perpetually heartbroken yet surprisingly understated elder sister Anna while Rauli Tuomi portrays the commoner-cum-nobleman architect. Vaala’s historical melodrama (based on a novel by Zachris Topelius) is, at times, dripping with so much “old dark house” atmosphere one half expects to find Catherine Morland reading by the fireside and yet the daytime scenes are lighthearted and playful. Linnaisten Vihreä Kamari can turn on a dime. And boy does it turn often. Every time one plot point seems to be tied up, a new one emerges. It’s the gift that keeps on giving—or the story that never ends—depending on your personal outlook on Finnish melodrama (I tend toward the former).

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