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Working-class girls in a welfare state: Finnishness, social class and gender in Aki Kaurismäki's Workers' Trilogy (1986-1990)

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The Workers' Trilogy (or Proletarian Trilogy) directed by the Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki includes the films Shadows in Paradise (1986), Ariel (1988) and The Match Factory Girl (1990). Commentators and researchers on these films have tended to concentrate mainly on topics such as nationality, intertextual references and the style of the auteur, and not, for example, on the identities of the workers, their gender or their age. In this article I focus on gender, looking especially at the female characters depicted in the trilogy in relation to social class, and considering in particular the articulation of gender and poverty in Finland in the late 1980s/early 1990s. I examine The Match Factory Girl in more detail; it is the only Kaurismäki film with a female protagonist, Iris Rukka. In my analysis I borrow ideas from sociology, cultural studies and women's studies. I also discuss the contradictory reactions that may be evoked by these films.
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Keywords: Aki Kaurismäki; The Match Factory Girl; Workers' Trilogy; gender; social class

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Tampere

Publication date: 2012-01-31

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  • The Journal of Scandinavian Cinema is a new scholarly journal devoted to film in the Scandinavian countries. It aims to become the prime site for excellent research and engaging discussions on cinema in Scandinavia, both within the national context of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and as a region existing in a globalized world.
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