Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"The Last Sentence": a Swedish newspaper editor uses his own free-speech voice to warn about Hiitler, while Sweden remains neutral in WWII


The Swedish film “The Last Sentence” (“Dom over dod man”), directed by Jan Troell, based on a book by Kenne Fant, uses some obscure WWII history to make important points about the influence of writing and speech.
  
Specifically, this black-and-white film (long at 126 minutes) tells the story of Swedish journalist and newspaper (Gothenburg, Sweden) editor Torgny Segerstedt (Jesper Christensen), who went his own way in his writings, insisting, during the 1930s, that Hitler was a threat to all mankind.  The politics were complicated, as Sweden wanted to (and did finally) remain officially neutral, while Russia fought a convoluted war with Finland.  The film has many newsreel footages of Hitler’s activities as well as of the Russia-Finnish war.  In fact, it is not impossible that Vladimir Putin could create issues along the Finnish border today.
  
Torgny wrote over 10000 articles, and made the newspaper effectively like a set of personal blogs, like mine.  The movie shows several scenes of newspaper hand typesetting as it was done then, to reinforce that point. There is a scene late in the film where a Swedish official quizzes him about the disruptive effect of his writings.  I wondered if that could apply to me.
  
The film shows a lot of his domestic life, with three loving dogs, and a troubled wife Puste (Ulla Skoog), who complains about his loss of marital sexual libido and throws scalding water on one of the dogs,.  He also has a mistress Maja (Pernilla August).  In the second half of the film, there are some silly, Macbeth-like scenes with the ghost of his dead mother.
  
  
The official site is here. I saw the film at the Cinema Arts in Fairfax, VA, the only theater in the DC area showing the film even though it comes from a large indie distributor.  This was late Monday night, after storms, and the audience was small. 

The music score is interesting.  The Sibelius "Valse Triste" is played a lot, as is the opening of Finlandia (in the Russo-Finnish war scenes), as well as some piano music by Sinding, and some strung music by Wiren (sounding like Bartok).

In 1999, I saw a direct Finnish import film at the University of Minnesota, about the Russo-Finnish war, “Ambush” (“Tar Rukajarven”), directed by OIlli Saarela. 
   
Wikipedia attribution link for scene outside Kiruna, Sweden (iron mining town in the Arctic).  I was there in August, 1972, shortly before "my second coming".  .

No comments: