Thursday, December 23, 2010

a white reindeer

The white reindeer. Valkoinen peura, 1952 Finnish movie

Last night, I helped my sister, Katja, and her son, Elijah, decorate their Christmas tree, a beautiful white spruce that my son and Elijah found in the back bush of my mother's land. After we thought the tree was finished being decorated -- which entailed the requisite dropping and splintering into bits of a Christmas bauble -- Katja pulled out one last ornament: a beautiful white reindeer. Oh, my! We hung it at the top of the white spruce. It appeared to be leaping off the branches in a graceful bound.

The movie clip above is of a woman, Pirita, who transforms into a white reindeer and gets special witchmagic at each full moon. The story is part Finnish or Saami folktale and myth. A woman falls in love with a reindeer herder, who spends extended periods of time following the herd. She feels lonely and goes to the shaman to get some help with her lovelife; he chants some magic and tells her she has to give a sacrifice to the Great Seida, after which all men will be charmed by her. Unfortunate events happen and she turns into a white reindeer vampire at each full moon. There is very little language in the clip above, so even if you don't know Finnish you can follow along on this excerpt of a woman/reindeer spirit/vampire. It is classified as a Horror film


Valkoinen Peura (The White Reindeer) was Finland's entry in the 1953 Cannes Film Festival. Written, photographed and directed by Erik Blomberg, the film stars Blomberg's wife Mirijami Kuosmanen. She plays a neglected young wife who responds to her husband's coldness by venturing into the snowy wastes and transforming into a reindeer. Symbolically, every man who hunts this deer comes to a bad end. And then the husband goes a-hunting . . . . On paper, Valkoinen Peura seems ludicrous; on film, everything works beautifully.


Merche Pallarés said...

Thanks for the explanation, otherwise, I wouldn't have understood what the film was about!
I liked the landscapes.

Black Pete said...

Interesting! Loved the rupture of the shamanic drum!

Ari said...

In 1950:ies profits of this kind of films were very low at least in Finland. In those days this film was too "artistic", nowadays too commercial. Be careful, Santa Claus is coming soon with white reindeers.

BURIID JUOVLLAID = Hyvää joulua saamen kielellä.

northshorewoman said...

I read that this film has been recently re-released on dvd, so I will be looking for it. Mind you, being less of a commercial blockbuster it may take some sleuthing to find.

marja-leena said...

Fascinating! I think I might try to find it too. Hope you had a great Christmas. Toivon että teillä oli hyvä Joulu!

20th Century Woman said...

There are so many fascinating stories and traditions centered around Christmas. This one was unique and beautiful, if a bit scary.

northshorewoman said...

ML, I hope you had a blessed Christmas and that your New Year's is special, too.

20th C Woman, yes, there are so many ways of celebrating Christmas, and watching movies seems to be part of it for us Canadians.I hope your holiday was wonderful.