Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 7: Fri Jan 7

Black on White (Donner, 1968): Close Up Cinema, 8.15pm

Jörn Donner (1933-2020) was a Finnish author, film director, producer, screenwriter, film critic and former CEO of the Swedish Film Institute. Curated by Ehsan Khoshbakht, this small tribute at Close Up Cinema presents two of his best known and influential films made in Finland in the 1960s, screened from archival 35mm prints. Full details here.

According to film historian Peter von Bagh "[t]he arena of conflict here, as in Donner's subsequent films, is the bed, wheresoever it might be. The point of departure is a family portrait: an ideal image of happiness, a miniature of affluent Finland. The protagonist borders on burnout, and the camera follows the drama of the other disintegrating characters and relationships as if in a laboratory experiment."

Time Out review:
A simple triangle affair, shot in stunning colour, which somehow contrives to make capital out of its own banality. Nothing much happens, but a great deal is revealed about the illusion of happiness, as a young businessman (well played by Donner himself) breaks up his 'perfect' marriage to pursue a short-lived affair with a flighty young secretary (Kristiina Halkola). He manoeuvres to get her away on an imaginary business trip; he begins to get caught up in a tissue of lies both at home and at the office; and he watches helplessly as the girl gradually drifts indifferently away, leaving him forlornly dogging her footsteps. With quiet, unobtrusive compassion, always revealing more than is said, Donner records the hell on earth of man's quest for happiness.
Tom Milne

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