A thriller set in turn-of-the-century Helsinki, Stolen Death uses elements of German expressionism to tell the story of Finnish resistance fighters smuggling arms to overthrow the Tsarist ...
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A wanted gangster is both king and prisoner of the Casbah. He is protected from arrest by his friends, but is torn by his desire for freedom outside. A visiting Parisian beauty may just tempt his fate.
A private detective helps a prostitute being assaulted, and notices that she is wearing a very unique ring. She is later found murdered and there is no trace of the ring, which turns out to... See full summary »
A thriller set in turn-of-the-century Helsinki, Stolen Death uses elements of German expressionism to tell the story of Finnish resistance fighters smuggling arms to overthrow the Tsarist occupiers of Finland. Tapiovaara stresses the divided loyalties of the Finnish bourgeoisie, torn between preserving their privileged economic position and taking a risky stand for an independent Finland.
For the 1954 re-release, producer Erik Blomberg cut 15 minutes out of the film. The original 101 minute version hasn't been shown since, yet the cut parts are preserved. The preserved uncut version was shown by The Finnish National Audiovisual Instute on the 15 of August 2017. See more »
Varastettu kuolema / Stolen Death (1938, Nyrki Tapiovaara)
There is something very special about the careful and intricate way Stolen Death is made. With a visual flair, strongly reminiscent of film noir and German expressionism, the film creates a bleak and cold world - but not one without hope.
It's staunch and calculated rhythmic journey also has a flare of romanticism, that peaks through it's harsh exterior. This makes it harder to put in a box, as a movie of this kind could easily be a brilliant exercise of style, it feels far too human to simply fit this label - despite the minimalistic atmosphere at hand.
This is a slow burner, that gradually let's you into it's time and world, and requires your concentration. Set while Finland was still a part of the Russian Empire, we follow revolutionaries through some fiercely banal groundwork, from their publication, to the attempts to gain guns - all with the police, authority and other betraying dangers lurking in the shadows.
And the shadows truly come out in this movie, they almost become their own character in the early portions of the film, rendering most noirs to shame, and interestingly utilizes many techniques we'll later find among the later American wave - at the same time as there are clear Russian influences. At the same time it's atmosphere and progression feels more true to the contemporary Japanese filmmaking of the time - though this is likely a coincident.
While watching it my most frequent thought, not relating directly to the plot, was the extraordinarily surprising talent of Nyrki Tapiovaara. He utilizes a wide variety of shots, and techniques, that all deliver the emotion and atmosphere intended - and he makes it all come together seamlessly. This is a level of film-making equal to that of Lang and Ozu in this era. I will need to investigate more of his filmography. I believe we have an internationally forgotten master here! 8.5/10
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