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The Unknown Soldiers

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This article deals with the Finnish war novel Tuntematon sotilas/The Unknown Soldier (1954), by Väinö Linna (1920-1992), and the two film adaptations that premiered in 1955 and 1985, directed by Edvin Laine (1905-1989) and Rauni Mollberg (1931-2007), respectively. A third point of comparison is the theatre performance directed by Kristian Smeds (b. 1970) for the National Theatre in Helsinki (2007). Discussion focuses on the general unifying and differing features of the novel and the film adaptations. The basic argument is that the novel, the film adaptations and the theatre performance share a particular 'cinematic world-view' that recreates modernist ways of telling and showing. This is established through an analysis of the aesthetics of the landscape in the novel and the film adaptations, as well as through a comparison with the western genre, in particular the films of Anthony Mann, whose films of the1950s differ stylistically from the 'classical western' in the same ways The Unknown Soldier diverges from more traditional war stories.

Keywords: Edvin Laine; Finnish cinema; Hollywood; Kristian Smeds; Rauni Mollberg; Väinö Linna; modernism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Turku

Publication date: November 19, 2012

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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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