A beautiful movie to watch in Lent

Lent 4 – Saturday
Eve of the Solemnity of St. Benedict’s death and entry into eternal life

[ now reading? ] Julia Duin – “Quitting Church: Why the Faithful Are Fleeing and What to Do About It” (2008: Baker Books)

I’ve been very quiet of late blogging wise. Since that sort of epiphany a couple of months ago when I seriously considered giving up this blog, I haven’t felt as much of a need to blog since.

But I do feel compelled to blog after watching this movie today on the World Movies channel and to say/declare/testify (in Finnish no less) that in this period of Lent to all of you who feel burnt out, tired of church, of your own weakness and of your own sins that:

“Kaikki synnit anteeksi Jeesuksen nimessä ja veressä”

The movie is titled Kielletty Hedelmä in Finnish (released internationally as “Forbidden Fruit”), directed by Dome Karukoski.

Those of you who know me well, know that I am usually a sucker for films that do contain religious elements in them (though if you give me a DVD to watch Left Behind or Fireproof, I will have to ask God for grace to politely refuse the DVD from you or resist the temptation to take it from your hands, break it into two pieces and then bin them). Hence, why I loved movies like Samsara, Ordet (“The Word”) and Tystnadden (“The Silence”) that explore the inner psychology of a person’s religious convictions and how they deal with it in light of the society around them.

For Kieletty Hedelmä, to break the movie down into a nutshell: it’s a coming-of-age story of two young Finnish Conservative Lutheran girls (the Lutheran group they belong to is known as the Laestadians, specifically the Conservative Laestadians) who want to experience the things that they have heard in church all their lives as being sinful and of the “Archfiend” (i.e. the Devil). To quote some lines from their pastor as he speaks to Raakel after Maria disappears:

“The world is a treacherous place. It will condemn weak souls to eternal damnation. … It is that easy to give in to temptation in the city. One touch and the Devil takes everything.”

So they decide to run away to the big town from their village home to experience it all for themselves before going back for the Summer Service.

It is very much a Lutheran version of what the Amish call rumspringa (“running around” in Pennsylvania Dutch).

The cinematography is beautifully done. It shows off Finland at its best. The two leads, Amanda Pilke (“Maria”) and Marjut Maristo (“Raakel”) play their roles to a tee.

Sheltered from the world, their naïvete and idealistic view of things is both shattered and confirmed once they leave the inner sanctum of the Conservative Laestadian church they attend with their (large) families. I’d be lying if I said that there isn’t a bit of that naïvete and idealism in me also which means that even as a guy, I can identify with their struggles of reconciling their conservative faith with the stormy winds of society and popular culture. I also now have a temporary crush on Marjut Maristo who is a beautiful young Finnish actress. LOL.

I won’t say what the ending of the film is like, but I can really identify with the paths that both girls take. Like them, I too am at a crossroads that could either destroy relationships with family and friends or deepen them. If you can find this film on DVD or you have World Movies on Austar, Optus Vision or Foxtel, find out when it will be screened next and watch it.

Another movie I have watched recently is the adaptation of the first novel in Stieg Larsson’s trilogy, Män Som Hatar Kvinnor (“Men who hate women”). Some of the scenes in it are shockingly disgusting but integral to the storyline. In one scene, as Lisbeth Salander tattoos the truth about her “guardian” onto his chest and stomach, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of elation and happiness that the s.o.b. got what he deserved given what he did to Lisbeth about 10-15 minutes earlier in the film. I am looking forward to finishing the reading of all the books in Larsson’s “Millenium Trilogy”. Noomi Rapace is utterly gorgeous and plays the tortured soul of Salander perfectly. She inhabits that role so vividly.

Maybe I should go and pick up the books from Borders and enter that competition to win a trip to Sweden. A$20 for the book to potentially win a holiday worth a few thousand bucks. It’s a small sacrifice for potentially a big gain in visiting a country that I really want to visit without needing to spend that much money.

+ 1649hrs


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