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Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy

 

Varjoja paratiisissa (1986) aka Shadows in Paradise


Ariel (1988)


Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö (1990) aka The Match Factory Girl

 

The poignant, deadpan films of Aki Kaurismäki are pitched somewhere in the wintry nether lands between comedy and tragedy. And rarely in his body of work has the line separating those genres seemed thinner than in what is often identified as his "Proletariat Trilogy," Shadows in Paradise, Ariel, and The Match Factory Girl. In these three films, something like social-realist farces, Kaurismäki surveys the working-class outcasts of his native Finland with detached yet disarming amusement. Featuring commanding, off-key visual compositions and delightfully dour performances, the films in this triptych exemplify the talents of a unique and highly influential film artist.

 


Titles

 

 


 

Shadows in Paradise
Aki Kaurismäki, 1986
Lonely garbageman Nikkander (Matti Pellonpää) finds himself directionless after losing his friend and co-worker to a sudden heart attack; unlikely redemption comes in the form of plain supermarket cashier Ilona (Kati Outinen, in her first of many performances for Kaurismäki), with whom he begins a tentative love affair. Boiling down what is essentially a romantic comedy to a series of spare and beautiful gestures, Kaurismäki conjures an unexpected delight that finds hope blossoming even amid gray surroundings.

 

Ariel
Aki Kaurismäki, 1988
In Kaurismäki’s drolly existential crime drama, a coal miner named Taisto (Turo Pajala) attempts to leave behind a provincial life of inertia and economic despair, only to get into ever deeper trouble. Yet a minor-key romance with a hilariously dispassionate meter maid (Susanna Haavisto) might provide a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Ariel, which boasts a terrific soundtrack of Finnish tango and Baltic pop music and lovely cinematography by Kaurismäki’s longtime cameraman Timo Salmimen, put its director on the international map.

The Match Factory Girl
Aki Kaurismäki, 1990
Kaurismäki took his penchant for despairing character studies to unspeakably grim depths in the shockingly entertaining The Match Factory Girl. Kati Outinen is memorably impenetrable as Iris, whose grinding days as a cog in a factory wheel, and nights as a neglected daughter living with her parents, ultimately send her over the edge. Yet despite her transgressions, Kaurismäki makes Iris a compelling, even sympathetic figure. Bleak yet suffused with comic irony, The Match Factory Girl closes out the “Proletariat Trilogy” with a bang—and a whimper.

Theatrical Releases: 1986 - 1990

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse Series 12 from the Criterion Collection (3-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Bitrates: Respective bitrates - 7.82. 7.82, 7.77 mb/s
Time: Respectively - 1:14:06, 1:12:00, and 1:08:48
Bitrate:

Shadows in Paradise

Bitrate:

Ariel

Bitrate:

The Match Factory Girl

Audio Finnish (Dolby 1.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.85 

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date: September 23rd, 2008

3 Slim Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box (see image above)
Chapters: 14, 14, 12

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 3 features of this boxset are housed in individual slim transparent keep cases (see image above) and they are not sold separately at this time. These particular NTSC editions can only be obtained in Criterion's Eclipse Series Twelve - Aki Kaurismäki's Proletariat Trilogy package at present.

NOTE: All three are already available in the THE AKI KAURISMÄKI COLLECTION Vol. 1 from Artificial Eye (PAL) in the UK HERE.

Somewhat surprisingly, all three DVDs are single-layered.  Each are anamorphically enhanced, progressive and transferred in their original 1.85:1 aspect ratios. All 3 have optional English subtitles, Finnish mono audio and are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard.

 

Quality is consistently acceptable in all three features with no strong complaints and only some minor glossiness and moiring as inconsequential observations. They are all very clean (expectantly at less than 20 years-old) and Criterion may have bumped the black levels a shade to bring up detail which again seems quite even and tight enough. Shadow detail is strong and noise limited to a few more noticeable instances that sometimes resemble grain. Overall, especially considering their single-layering, the transfers are perfectly suitable for enjoying the films. I suppose the 4.75 GB size was adequate as the films are all relatively short (the longest being 1 1/4 hours) and their are no extravagant and superfluous audio bumps or extras cluttering up the disc space.

Bitrates are very strong ranging in the high 7's MPS and again show the competent nature of the DVD rendering.

Aside from one page liner notes for each film (visible on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case cover) there are no supplements. This is consistent from Eclipse. 

The mono audio tracks are likewise clear and consistent and the subtitles seem suitably translated without précising.

 

The films are pure Kaurismäki joy with his unique brand of angst humor filtering through in multiple scenes. This was a perfect choice for Eclipse although I, of course, would have loved some extras. On second thought - the films really speak for themselves and too much introspection might taint the experience.

We continue to encourage Eclipse in this project and highly appreciate having these films available at the reasonable price of about $10 / film. Another perfect escape from Hollywood's modern malady of action excess. Strongly recommended!

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus



Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

Lonely garbageman Nikkander (Matti Pellonpää) finds himself directionless after losing his friend and co-worker to a sudden heart attack; unlikely redemption comes in the form of plain supermarket cashier Ilona (Kati Outinen, in her first of many performances for Kaurismäki), with whom he begins a tentative love affair. Boiling down what is essentially a romantic comedy to a series of spare and beautiful gestures, Kaurismäki conjures an unexpected delight that finds hope blossoming even amid gray surroundings.

 

Screen Captures

 

Shadows in Paradise (1968)

Directed by Aki Kaurismäki

Starring Matti Pellonpää, Kati Outinen, Sakari Kuosmanen and Esko Nikkari
 
Subtitle Sample
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

In Kaurismäki’s drolly existential crime drama, a coal miner named Taisto (Turo Pajala) attempts to leave behind a provincial life of inertia and economic despair, only to get into ever deeper trouble. Yet a minor-key romance with a hilariously dispassionate meter maid (Susanna Haavisto) might provide a light at the end of a very dark tunnel. Ariel, which boasts a terrific soundtrack of Finnish tango and Baltic pop music and lovely cinematography by Kaurismäki’s longtime cameraman Timo Salmimen, put its director on the international map.

Screen Captures

 

Ariel (1988)


Directed by Aki Kaurismäki


Starring Turo Pajala, Susanna Haavisto, Matti Pellonpää and Eetu Hilkamo

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

Kaurismäki took his penchant for despairing character studies to unspeakably grim depths in the shockingly entertaining The Match Factory Girl. Kati Outinen is memorably impenetrable as Iris, whose grinding days as a cog in a factory wheel, and nights as a neglected daughter living with her parents, ultimately send her over the edge. Yet despite her transgressions, Kaurismäki makes Iris a compelling, even sympathetic figure. Bleak yet suffused with comic irony, The Match Factory Girl closes out the “Proletariat Trilogy” with a bang—and a whimper.

 

 

Screen Captures

 

The Match Factory Girl (1990)


Directed by Aki Kaurismäki


Starring Kati Outinen, Elina Salo, Esko Nikkari and Vesa Vierikko

 

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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