Inspired by the Palmu films being shown on TV again, I decided to assemble a list of the best Finnish films according to my taste, not necessarily in exactly this order. I'm not a great friend of Finnish cinema, but these are all acceptable, some more than that.

  1. Edvin Laine: Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Soldier, 1955): The Classic based on Väinö Linna's novel describing a machine gun company's experiences in the Continuation War (1941-44), but personalities reflected in their talk and actions are the main interest for me. See also my Independence Day text.
  2. Matti Kassila: Komisario Palmun erehdys (Mysterious Case of the Rygseck Murders, 1960) has the two scariest characters I had seen in film before Hannibal Lecter. These days it's the humour that appeals mostly, although Detective Kokki's singing has lost some of its charm through repetition.
  3. Matti Kassila: Kaasua, komisario Palmu ('It's Gas, Inspector Palmu', 1961) has a remarkably slimy preacher and an amusing murderer who makes a mistake.
  4. Matti Kassila: Tähdet kertovat, komisario Palmu ('It's Written in the Stars, Inspector Palmu', 1962): Well, it's not as good as the two other Palmu films, but I include it as a part of the series. It has an entertaining portrayal of the early 1960s youth culture.
  5. Pekka Parikka: Pohjanmaa ('Ostrobothnia', 1988) is based on Antti Tuuri's novel describing the events of one day when a family assembles to distribute a scant inheritance, partly harking back to WW2 and beyond, partly to the main character's, played by Taneli Mäkelä, personal past. Some knowledge of Finnish history and culture is needed to appreciate it fully.
  6. Mikko Niskanen: Pojat (The Boys, 1962) is about growing up and relations between Finnish schoolboys and German soldiers during the Continuation War. It starts light-heartedly but becomes increasingly sombre towards the end. But why couldn't they have found a German to play Uncle Fritz?
  7. Pekka Parikka: Talvisota (Winter War, 1989) is also based on Antti Tuuri's novel about the experiences of an Ostrobothnian army unit in the Winter War (1939-40). The characters represent the preceding generation to the main characters in the book and film Pohjanmaa. Taneli Mäkelä plays the father of Pohjanmaa's main character.
  8. Olli Saarela: Rukajärven tie (Ambush, 1999): One more WW2 film with a manuscript by Antti Tuuri, not directly based on his documentary novel with the same name. The "last supper" scene is well-known and admired, although I found its obviousness embarrassing. An esthetic film made clearly by people without personal experience of war. Also some romantic interest.
  9. Erik Blomberg: Valkoinen peura (The White Reindeer, 1952): A were-reindeer in exotic Lapland.
  10. Mikko Niskanen: Kahdeksan surmanluotia (Eight Deadly Shots, 1972): Not really among my favourites, but very good. Hollywood would have made a very different film out of this tragedy of a moonshining smallholder, based on real events. Mikko Niskanen in the leading role is incredible in his sensitivity. As a whole it's easy to forget that the film is fiction, after all. Personally I prefer entertainment and adventure to social realism.

These are all films that I have seen more than once, and they bear watching many times over, although a Top Seven or Eight would reflect my taste better. A Bottom Ten of Finnish Film would be interesting, but I'm afraid there would be too much competition for the positions. And who'd bear to watch them? Not I.