Monday, August 29, 2011

Snow Queen (1986)

Original Title: Lumi-kuningatar
Year Released: 1986
Country of Origin: Finland
Run Time: 89 minutes.

How I Watched It: Youtube. Finnish version. No English subtitles.

Adaptation Accuracy: Forgive me, dear readers, for I do not speak Finnish. But, fuck, I wish I did so I could know exactly what was going on in this highly imaginative version of The Snow Queen. WARNING: Most of this summary is my interpretation, so I apologize if you are ever lucky enough to find this movie with English subtitles and I turn out to be completely wrong. Let's begin, shall we?

So it starts with some probably very helpful voiceover about a crystal which needs to be added to the Snow Queen's (Satu Silvo) crown when the sun and moon align at the right moment.

Then we cut to an idyllic scene of Kai (Sebastian Kaatrasalo) and Kerttu (Outi Vainionkulma) playing on a sandy beach. Kerttu discovers one of those wooden music boxes with a dancing ballerina. Inside, there are also these three glowing button things with the sun on them. Thinking nothing of it, the children take them and they are sewn onto Kai's winter coat. In the middle of the night, the Snow Queen summons Kai and takes him to her palace in the north, but when she spots the sun buttons, she throws them into the wild blue yonder.

Kerttu is depressed at the disappearance of her friend and goes looking for him. She arrives at the cottage of the Witch (Tuula Nyman) who was once a famous ballerina (I think). The Witch feeds Kerttu these heart-shaped candy things with rings inside them. Then she pushes Kerttu into becoming a ballerina, making her practice to the point of exhaustion. Having forgotten all about Kai and her mission, the roses on Kerttu's wallpaper come to life and warn her about the evil witch. Eventually Kerttu escapes and the roses (other trapped ballerinas) are freed.

Kerttu then meets a clown (Esko Hukkanen) who suggests she look for Kai at the palace, but it's only the newlywed Princess (Juulia Ukkonen) and Prince (Paava Westerberg). Kerttu has found two of the sun buttons, which for some reason, pisses off the Princess, but she still gives her a coach and horses.

Next, Kerttu is kidnapped by robbers. The Robber Girl (Marja Pykkö) takes a shine to her. Kerttu steals a reindeer. This is pretty much just like the story except there's this awful robber's song. This is like the third Snow Queen adaptation to have a robber song. WTF?

Meanwhile, Kai is training to be some kind of knight at the Snow Queen's palace. He tries on the crown, gets caught, and then has to fight this man in a thong with a polar bear head. Seriously. Here is a screencap:

As Kerttu nears the palace, the Snow Queen senses the buttons or something and bitch slaps her with a blizzard. The Lapland Woman (Elina Salo) rescues her and explains whats going on, who the Snow Queen is, why she's taken Kai, and the significance of the crown and the sun buttons.

In the end, Kerttu storms the palace just as the Snow Queen is putting on the crown. She throws two of the buttons, but the Snow Queen, again, bitch slaps her. Then Kai, having come to his senses, throws the last button. The Snow Queen is defeated. The children return home and bury the music box in the sand and live happily ever after.

Overall Likes: The Music; Production design; Outi Vainionkulma as Kerttu; The Snow Queen's wig, Fab-u-LOUS!; Probably a plot that makes sense; Equal time spent in each segment; Fleshed out characterization of the Witch, the Princess and Prince, the Robber Girl, and the Lapland Woman.

Overall Dislikes: No mirror; Homo-erotic guards; Robber song.

Final Thoughts: I love this version. Unfortunately, its greatness may be in my head. Maybe it's not tied up in a nice little package...but if I could gather a plot despite the foreign language, that's gotta mean something, right? I'm feeling optimistic so I'm going to give the movie the benefit of the doubt and assume everything happens for a reason.

No, not everything is exactly like the original story, but this interpretation keeps what's important. It takes the story seriously. Not Schindler's List seriously, but there isn't a lot of wacky antics. In fact, SQ ('86) is quite similar in tone to 1985's Return to Oz, which I am all for. It gets "dark and scary" sometimes.

All plot points aside, it definitely has the best music in any version. The cinematography is also beautiful and I was quite impressed with the acting all around. Too bad there isn't a Region 1 release. :-(

No comments: