Peter von Bagh: Junassa [On the train]

26 August 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Peter von Bagh
Junassa
[On the train]
Helsinki: Love Kirjat / WSOY, 2011. 255 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-0-37921-9
€18, hardback

Professor Peter von Bagh, a film director and academic, is the author of a wide range of books on the history of film and culture. In this small-scale volume of essays, he investigates the significant role played by trains and railways in cinematic plot structures since the days of silent film. The text chugs along in a series of snippets, reminiscent of a rail passenger’s experience of scenery zipping past. This book looks at classics of the film noir, Western and romance genres, along with films that have used trains as a deeper metaphor for life. von Bagh also considers the critically derided but widely loved Finnish popular culture from the 1940s and ’50s, as well as fiction. For example, author Juhani Aho’s first novel, Rautatie (‘The railway’, 1884), depicted an individual’s first experience of a train journey with a degree of authenticity that it can be compared to the uproar the Lumière brothers’ early films generated among the audiences. Unfortunately Junassa lacks an index of the works and people mentioned in the text.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

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