BAM Samples Finland's Teuvo Tulio

Loosely based on Pushkin's story "The Station-Master," Cross of Love (1946), showing November 24, is similar to The Way You Wanted Me in its depiction of the innocent provincial girl Riita—a lighthouse keeper's daughter who is seduced, abandoned, socially rejected, and indelibly played by Tulio's companion and collaborator, the natural beauty and relentless over-dramatizer Regina Linnanheimo. Total madness, even by Tulio standards: The opening juxtaposes stormy seas, capsizing boats, forbidding rocks, and squawking parrots—not to mention the ranting drunken paranoia of crazy old Lighthouse-Kalle (Oscar Tengström, another shameless ham). The movie's title is a literal one, referring to the portrait of Riita painted by a young artist who reliably fails to ever see who she truly is. The tale of Riita's burden builds to a fantastic crescendo, an amalgam of guilt, subterfuge, and extreme performance.

Cross of Love (1946)
Courtesy the Finland National Audiovisual Archive
Cross of Love (1946)

Details

Master of Melodrama: Teuvo Tulio
BAMcinématek, November 3–24

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As noted by the Finnish film historian Peter von Bagh, Linnanheimo is a star "who eventually abandoned all acting 'norms' " and whose "depictions of hysteria, panic, fear, and madness [were] a grand statement even on the scale of world melodrama." So, too, her director: One watches with mounting dread the scene in which the bamboozled Lighthouse-Kalle insists on dancing the traditional "tricky polka" at his daughter's fake wedding. The inevitable car wreck is delayed but only for the moment—first, an old floozy must sing a Russian gypsy ballad. Speaking as one who has become acquainted with the Tulioesque, the crucifixion doesn't disappoint.

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