The Eclipse Viewer Episode 11: Aki Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy

EV 11David and I are back with another episode of The Eclipse Viewer, the podcast dedicated to the Criterion Collection’s Eclipse Series of DVDs.

In this episode, we talk about Eclipse Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy. Kaurismäki is a Finish film director whose most recent work is 2011’s Le Havre. The three films we’re talking about in this episode are from the late 1980s and form what has come to be known as the Proletariat Trilogy due to their droll look at low-wage blue collar life on the fringe in Finland.

The first feature, Shadows in Paradise (1986), stars the great Matti Pellonpää as a lonely garbage man. Lonely until he meets Ilona, played by Kati Outinen, and they have to go on the run. That sounds much more fun and romantic than this film actually is. It has a bitter taste, which, to me, makes the sweetness even more special.

The second feature is Ariel (1988). A kind of crime drama that could go anywhere, we again mix in the tropes of a romantic comedy when Taisto, played by Turo Pajala, meets the ever-loyal Susanna Haavisto’s meter maid. The mine where Taisto works has just been closed down and his father has just committed suicide, giving Taisto just the push he needs to try a new life — but remember I called this a crime drama.

The third and last feature in this set is The Match Factory Girl (1990), which brings back Kati Outinen, as the titular character. Looking for love, she thinks she might find it in a despicable man she meets one night in a bar.

In each story, the central character is brought to a decision. In each the character ends up in jail. Yet in each there is dark comedy and a tinge of hope. These are three outstanding films that I recommend whole-heartedly.

Please find the podcast, the shownotes, and the links over at CriterionCast here.

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In the next episode of The Eclipse Viewer, David and I are planning to discuss Eclipse Series 8: Lubitsch Musicals, which contains these four films: The Love Parade (1929), Monte Carlo (1930), The Smiling Lieutenant (1931), and One Hour With You (1932).

One thought on “The Eclipse Viewer Episode 11: Aki Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy

  1. Fantastic – back when I watched movies, these Kaurismaki films were impossible to find. Just legends to me. Leningrad Cowboys, whatever its virtues, was no help.

    SO how exciting that these are easily available now.

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