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Populärmusik från Vittula

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I happen to be quite keen on – possibly too keen on – Swedish music. This may be because I like Scandinavia or because they seem to have numerous great bands in Sweden. Thus I was amused to see that a Swedish film on music, Populärmusik från Vittula was coming to a local cinema.

Map showing Pajala, with thanks to Google Earth... While the film didn’t quite match the pop desires which you may have expected to be met, it was still an enjoyable film. A film that deals with many things and plays in what looks like extremely rural Sweden almost half a century ago. The little town the film plays in is Pajala which is not only quite far in the north but also almost in Finland. In fact, throughout the film we get to see how people there ‘like’ their Finnish neighbours while being almost treated like they were Finns by the other Swedes (and there’s also the Finnish title Populäärimusiikkia Vittulanjänkältä which with all its double letters and umlauts makes me smile – unfortunately Finnish is said to be really hard to learn, though).

But that’s just a tiny detail. The big story is about two boys, Matti and Niila who grow up together. Throughout his childhood Niila is regularly beaten up by his father but tries to not make a fuss about it while Matti grows up in a harmless family. Just this difference gives them quite contrary outlooks on life. While Matti may consider it cool to get out of Pajala once he grows up, Niila absolutely has to leave.

The new music teacher in a 'Race for the Prize' with the school bus to get the band equipment for his school.

A new spark of colour comes into their countryside life once a new music teacher arrives at their school and manages to get proper band equipment in there. There the boys get to form a band and play at some occasions. And while Niila wants to live that dream and eventually manages to break out, Matti isn’t quite as determined but rather aims for the good life and the girls coming with their little band stardom. Because of this we eventually see the friends part as Niila wants to go and live ‘the life’.

Shot from the film with the band playing

While I didn’t think the film was too exciting, it was an interesting view on the old times and a different region of Europe. I also really liked the humour that was present throughout the film, particularly in the opening and closing scenes which reminded me of one of my favourite cartoons. Reading some comments on IMDB suggested that quite a few subtleties from the original book were lost in the film. So it might be worth to take a look at the book as well…

Amusingly synchronous alcohol consumption in the film.

[Buy at amazon .com, .uk, .de]

March 18, 2006, 0:36

Tagged as country:fi, country:se, film, populärmusik från vittula.

Comments

Comment by riccard0: User icon

I have read the book (translated in Italian) and enjoyed it very much. Also it seems that, based on your comments and the pictures you posted, the movie stands very close to the spirit of the book. Unfortunately, it seems that there isn’t an italian version of the film (nor an english one, for that matter).

March 21, 2006, 21:46

Comment by ssp: User icon

I ordered a copy of the book and hope I’ll get to read it soon. I looks like the film will be shown in London soon, so I suppose there must be at least English subtitles. (The version I saw had German subtitles.)

March 21, 2006, 22:45

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