Aki Kaurismaki and "Ascension"

Humberto 2022-07-08 21:00:18

Aki Kaurismaki's film "Ascension" subtly echoes the theme and emotion of the film in terms of "light and shade", "space" and "line of sight", reflecting his pursuit of aesthetics and emotional value. Among them, the use of color and the structure of light form a sharp contrast between light and dark, and the bright colors and lights in the dark, coupled with the minimalist scenery and furnishings, render a sense of hierarchy similar to the stage effect; the space in the film is open and transparent, and the collective space Shared and orderly, the individual space strives to be balanced in the composition, reflecting the contradiction and emotional relationship between people; through the movement and editing of the camera, the sight and direction of movement of the characters in the picture interact with the direction of movement of the camera, resulting in The interaction in the aesthetic sense of the shape shows Kaurismaki's aesthetic identification with Eisenstein's "pure film language".


Finnish filmmaker Aki Kaurismaki is known as "the most potential director in Northern Europe". He adheres to the pure hand-made author's film production method, and wins the award with his unique image style and strong humanistic feelings. the preference of European cinema. Kaurismaki is a prolific and high-quality creator[1]. He uses an almost naturalistic attitude to pick and polish the fragments of life, adding warmth and humor to the dark and cold, expressing his reflection on modern urban life. His movie characters are always kind, simple, and dull, and are out of tune with the world; his movies are always about wandering, alienation and loneliness, just like old-school American ballads, singing the grief of those who wandered on the edge of the city. happiness.

Ariel, filmed in 1988, tells a simple story: the coal mine was closed, the miner Kasuriname lost his job, he came to the city with all his belongings, but was robbed, worked odd jobs to make ends meet, and got divorced Woman Ilmel. He ran into the original robber, but was convicted and jailed after the scuffle. With the help of Ilmeler, he and his fellow inmate Mikonen successfully escaped from prison, robbed banks in exchange for passports and travel expenses, and finally boarded the smuggled "Lift" cruise ship with his lover. Like Kaurismaki's other works, the film is deeply imprinted with its author's style: minimalist and old-fashioned furnishings, staged lighting, succinct dialogue, restrained camera movement, emotionally charged Music, revealing influences from Robert Bresson and Yasujiro Ozu. The narrative also continues the pattern of the hero's embarrassment, suffering, and healing through love, and there is hope for life at the end. Combined with the director's other film analysis, it can be found how the "Lift" in "light and shade", "space" and "sight" skillfully echoes the theme and emotion of the film.

1. Light and dark

"Ascension" forms a sharp contrast between light and dark in the use of color and the structure of light, and the minimalist scenery and furnishings present a sense of layering similar to the stage effect.

In the use of color, Kaurismaki is nostalgic and idealistic, saying "I love colors that remind me of Hollywood in the 1950s...I am a realist, but when it comes to color design, there is only absurdity. A little or less realism can get you good results.”[2] Most of his films are based on cool tones, often a tinge of grey-blue, creating an unreal, old-fashioned feel. In the empty mirror of the big scene, a little bright red or yellow is added to the black, white and gray; in the small scene where the characters are located, soft warm colors such as red, yellow, green, and blue are often used to form a contrast with the dark colors. , to make the colors more jumpy and the characters more prominent. In "Ascension", the color tone of the picture is cold, mainly gray, white and blue, showing the coldness of the social environment; in the small shop where the old miner committed suicide, there are red chair backs and doors, and yellow door frames. , green walls, in contrast, the male protagonist is dressed in black clothes, which is in line with the character's identity and the lonely and depressing state of his life; while the heroine's clothing is usually bright in tone and high in saturation. The blue and white colors of her appearance indicate that her appearance will change the hero's life, and her appearance will bring love. The same is true in "Light of Twilight", the hot dog stand owner who has always cared about the hero is dressed in red and yellow overalls, and the heroine in "Lonely Shadow in Paradise" has blonde hair and red clothes, forming a sharp contrast with the hero. The colors in the film have strong shapes and expressive functions, and at the same time, light and shade, cool and warm complement each other.

In terms of lighting, Kaurismaki is more retro, there is always a beam of light pouring down from the indoor or outdoor corner where the characters are located, and the actors have face light and backlight, so that their eyes are more energetic, their expressions are more prominent, and their outlines are more prominent. clear. In "Ascension", there is often a bright window behind the male protagonist. During the trial in court, a beam of light shines on his face, highlighting the sweat on his forehead and his confused eyes, pulling him and the audience in the background. Open; the hero and heroine lie on the bed after they are happy, two beams of light hit their faces respectively, the surrounding furnishings are hidden in the darkness, they talk sincerely, and their expressions are not pretentious. Kaurismaki also prefers lights in the dark. In the night scenes of cities and ports in the film, there are many star-like street lights, navigation lights flashing, and a little bright and soft yellow light on the dark blue background; Bright lights can be seen above the characters' heads in the cell, in the house where he and his fellow inmates deal in the black market, and in the corridors of the used car store. The bright colors and lights in the film are not only the warmth and hope in life, but also imply some kind of transformation or crisis, especially the red color, such as the shop where the hero meets the man who robbed him has a large red area; he trades with people in the black market. The darkroom where the photos were developed was not closed, showing a red light; the bell light in the heroine's factory was flashing, and the hero was calling, and he was integrated into her and her son's life.

Kaurismaki is obsessed with creating bright colors and lights in the dark. The contrast between light and dark not only enriches the level of the picture and highlights the characters, but also his pursuit of aesthetic and emotional value, just as he writes absurdity with humor and sets off warmth with indifference.

2. Space

The sets of Kaurismaki’s films are minimalist, and when choosing natural scenery, they try to simplify the picture as much as possible, avoid complicated factors, and the space is open, transparent and orderly. The streets and the port are never bustling. In "Ascension", the coal miners quietly waited for the final blast, the port workers waiting to carry sandbags quietly watched the boss being arrested, and the unemployed people in the relief department watched TV together. Under Kaurismaki's lens, they are in groups of threes and fives, always lined up almost neatly. Even in bars and restaurants, there is order, everyone has their own place, eats, chats, listens to music, applauds and cheers, the neighbors who live in the container in "The Man Without the Past" enjoy the church performance, the Leningrad cowboy series That's what the concerts are all about. The order and sharing of collective space seems to reflect a democratic ideal.

When dealing with the individual space of the main characters, Kaurismaki's films pursue the balance and layering of the space in the composition, often placing the important characters in the picture on the left and right or in the two corners, and other characters in the middle between the two. background. The male and female protagonists of "Ascension" are married, and they are lined up with the priest on the left and right. The inmates and other witnesses are in the middle of the background; the male protagonist and the inmates ask the owner of the second-hand car dealership to return the car, the boss is left and right, and the inmates are standing by him Behind; the first time the male protagonist and the inmate meet, the inmate is in a corner of the cell, he is sitting at the door, and the two are on the left and right of the screen. After the relationship is closer, they are closer in the screen. In "The Leningrad Cowboy Meets Moses", when Moses arranged for the band to return to China to announce the plan, Moses and the others were divided into left and right corners, with a large distance in the middle, indicating that Moses covered the sky with only one hand in the band, and the members were very fond of him. awe. In "Light of Twilight", the male protagonist and the beautiful female liar are watching a movie together. The two are on the left and right of the screen, the woman is sitting upright, and the male protagonist is leaning on the back of the chair and looking at her sideways. The unevenness of the picture has shown that the male protagonist A fact completely in her hands. It can be seen that the spatial balance in Kaurismaki's films not only pursues aesthetics, but also expresses the contradiction and emotional relationship between people.

In addition, doors and windows are particularly noticeable in Kaurismaki's films, as they not only divide the space, but are also the location of many important events. Doors and windows appear many times in "Ascension", and they have already participated in the narrative representation: the coal mine was closed, the miners gradually walked from the factory to the bright snow outside the door, all the cars drove out of the factory gate, and the gate was locked ; The old miner left the car key to the actor to persuade him to leave, opened a red door of the small shop by himself, went in and shot himself, the actor sat silently at the window; when the actor encountered someone who robbed him, he pushed it away The door of the bar was chased out, and the man had nowhere to escape because the intersection was blocked by iron fences, and the two fought together; after the male protagonist was imprisoned, he was taken to the door of the cell, and there was a barbed wire in the foreground of the camera. Turning on the radio, playing rock music, and aiming the stereo at the small window of the cell door, he opened the two-story back door of the prison and escaped from the bright prison to the dark outdoor; the first time the actor stayed at the heroine's house for the night, the camera shot from dimly lit The window rolled to the bed where the two were lying. After the wedding, they walked into the bedroom. He shut his son out. At night, the son saw the police car from the living room window and knocked on the door to remind him. Then the police broke in from the living room. A close-up of the yellow door was given, and after they entered the bedroom, they found him escaping from the bedroom window; the heroine always cleans at the window, sits at the window to answer the phone, and handles pork at the window; when the heroine visits the hero, he sits at the window. At the window, he proposed to her; when the heroine was carrying prison escape tools, her cake and a book were handed in through the small window of the reception room; the hero walked to the door of the black market boss with a gun, and found that the inmate was murdered and shot him to death The boss and the assistant... It is not difficult to find that the door and the window, as the junction of the two spaces, are endowed with a special meaning. The "door" is the actual choice faced by the characters, and the "window" is the hope they can see. The key At any moment, the "window" can become a "door", and there is still hope to choose in a desperate situation. Combining with other films, it can be found that this meaning is consistent: the male protagonist in "The Man Without the Past" holds a broom and waits for the female protagonist to get off work under a circular window, and the male and female protagonists of "Lonely Shadow in Paradise" sit at the back door of the supermarket, the male The protagonist tries to date the heroine, but her attitude is not clear...

3. Line of sight

The performances in Kaurismaki's films are minimal "zero performances", and the dialogues of the characters are also very short and plain, without emotional ups and downs. He said, "I don't believe in the set of experiential performance techniques" [3], which makes his characters always look cold and rigid, and it is difficult to judge the character's psychology based on the momentary pictures. Whether the male protagonist of "Ascension" was robbed or encountered the female protagonist, his facial expressions did not seem to change significantly. Even if the male protagonist of "Twilight" was wrongfully imprisoned, he did not show any emotional changes. Even the direction of the characters' eyes rarely changes, and they always look straight ahead. Even when the hero and heroine are on a date, there are almost only several changes in the conversation, such as lowered eyebrows, slightly looking down, looking up, and looking up. This point is deeply influenced by Bresson, that is, "resisting emotions to generate emotions"[4], but at the emotional breaking point, it is even more necessary to express the characters' hearts with restraint and calmness.

In contrast, the characters and the language of the camera produce a comprehensive interaction, which makes the image expression concise and powerful. In the opening sequence of the blasting of the coal mine in "Ascension", the camera lens interacts with the movement direction and line of sight of the characters in the picture through editing and movement, forming a relationship between line and form changes, resulting in interactive aesthetics. (As shown in Figure 1 below)

figure 1

Shot 1 is fixed, the male protagonist and the old miner walk up the stairs back and forth, and the male protagonist walking behind turns off the lights downstairs; in shot 2, the two walk to the corner platform, the old miner closes the gate, and the male protagonist goes straight up Above the stairs, the old miners followed, and the camera followed them up, right, then up, and left; in shot 3, the foreground was the waiting miners, the male protagonist and the old miners slowly walked up the stairs, and the camera followed them up and then Move to the right, so that we can see the miner in sunglasses preparing to detonate; shots 4, 5, and 6 are fixed shots, three, multiple, and close-up shots of the hero and the old miner; shot 7 is the miner in sunglasses preparing to detonate; shot 8 is The hand of the miner in sunglasses pulls the detonation gate; shot 9 is a panoramic view of the detonation site, indicating the location of all the above.

In this paragraph, the first three shots are connected by the continuation of the character's movement. The direction of the character's movement in the scene frame is first to the upper right and then to the upper left, then horizontally to the right, and left and right to cross. In addition to rising, the movement of the lens is "right-left-right", which also crosses left and right, and the two movements are in the same direction. In the next three shots, the modeling lines of the characters in the scene frame and the direction of the line of sight form a sense of dynamism. The line of sight of the characters in lens 4 is collectively downward to the left, the arrangement of the people in lens 5 and the line of sight are basically downward to the right, and the arrangement of the lens 6 and the line of sight are downward to the left, also crossing left and right. The last three shots are also fixed, but they show a change of zooming in and then zooming out. Lens 7, the miner with sunglasses, looks down at the detonation gate, and lens 8 pulls the detonation gate upward, which also forms a cross movement. Overall, the direction of movement in the scene frame is also upward, then downward, and then upward. This passage is grouped with three shots, forming a comprehensive, rich movement, balanced in each direction of movement.

The miners are about to bid farewell to the place where they used to work forever. Their complex emotions make this passage full of ritual feeling. They are contemplating and waiting for that moment. The language of the camera uses a very formal comprehensive movement to create an appropriate "form". From this point of view, Kaurismaki's "Ascension" also shows an aesthetic identification with Eisenstein's "pure cinematic language".

[1] According to "Aki Kaurismaki's Life and Creation Chronology" (in the 2nd issue of "Cinema Art" in 2016), there are as many as 17 feature films directed by Kaurismaki alone, and there are also More than ten short films and documentaries. His films include serious feature films depicting the lives of the underprivileged and reflecting reality, including the "Worker Trilogy" - "Shadow in Paradise" (1986), "The Ascension" (1988), "The Match Factory Girl" (1990), "Finnish Trilogy" - "The Clouds" (1996), "The Man Without a Past" (2002), "Twilight" (2006), and "Le Havre", the first part of the "Port Trilogy" Er (2011); there are adaptations of classic dramatic literature, Crime and Punishment (1983), The Prince's Revenge (1987), Dirty Hands (1989), Bohemian Life (1992) ); and crazy rock road films, such as "The Cowboy of Leningrad" (1989), "The Cowboy of Leningrad Meets Moses" (1994), "Sit Steady, Tesina" (1994).

[2] [Turkey] Bert Cardullo: "Finnish Character - An Interview with Jacqui Kaulismaki", translated by Wang Fanghua, Contemporary Cinema, No. 6, 2010, p. 134.

[3][US] Andre Nestingen: "My Movies Are Part of Weird Performances - An Interview with Aki Kaurismaki", translated by Liu Yibing, "The Art of Cinema", No. 2, 2016, p. 146.

[4][French] Robert Bresson: "Notes on Film Writing", translated by Tan Jiaxiong and Xu Changming, Life·Reading·Xinzhi Sanlian Publishing House, 2001 edition, p.72.

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Ariel quotes

  • Taisto Olavi Kasurinen: What are those?

    Mikkonen: Sedatives.

    Taisto Olavi Kasurinen: What for?

    Mikkonen: Ask me again in a year.

  • Taisto Olavi Kasurinen: What do you do normally?

    Mikkonen: What do you mean by "normally"?