Saturday, 11 June 2011


As a child, my parents were amongst some of the first on our street to get an early form of cable television, which gave us over 50 different television channels including several bizarre european ones. Whilst my friends were watching things like The Smurfs, or Johnny Quest, I was watching really odd french children's films and The Moomins in the original Finnish without any subtitles. It seemed that European kids shows were far more sinister than english or american ones.

My parents recorded a film of what I assume was the Finnish channel we had in about 1992, which has since become perhaps my favourite film of all time. It was a really bizarre adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson's The Snow Queen, featuring the actress Satu Silvo. It had been dubbed badly into English, so it had these incredible scenes with bavarian castles and child royalty all with these surreal 'cute' american children's voices. It was just so odd.

Watching it in recent years feels odd, because I can see that this film was a huge influence on all my visual language and preferences. Powerful women with huge hair and intense lighting, crowns made from twigs and garlands, strange degrees of undressed young people, strange haircuts and plenty of flowing white fabric.

It has taken me a long time to identify this film, as the home recording I have starts after the title sequence, but last year I verified that it was in fact called LUMIKUNNINGATAR, released in 1986.

There was also this incredibly weird scene which perhaps affected me in later life. The stolen boy has to retrieve THE GREEN STONE to put in THE CROWN OF DARKNESS but to do this, he must fight off a savage polar bear. Now, I remember watching this as a child, and seeing a young boy fight a giant bear, but watching it now is a very different story. The polar bear is actually played by a tall, very muscular male dancer wearing what can only be described as a white thong and a polar bear mask. The bear knocks away the boy's sword, so they have to fight hand to hand. So basically, there is this 12 year old boy in leather trousers, studded leather shoulder pads and armlets with lots of studded leather strapping (to show that he's been possessed by evil) wrestling with an almost nude man in a Polar bear mask before finally slicing off it's head and retrieving THE GREEN STONE.

It's a great film.

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