The Eclipse Viewer – Episode 11 – Aki Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy

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This podcast focuses on Criterion’s Eclipse Series of DVDs. Hosts David Blakeslee and Trevor Berrett give an overview of each box and offer their perspectives on the unique treasures they find inside. In this episode, David and Trevor talk about Eclipse Series 12: Aki Kaurismäki’s Proletariat Trilogy,  three films shot in and around Helsinki, Finland during the late 1980s that helped establish its director as one of the most distinctive and acclaimed cinematic voices to emerge in that era.

About the films:

The poignant, deadpan films of Aki Kaurismäki are pitched somewhere in the wintry nether lands between comedy and tragedy. And rarely in his body of work has the line separating those genres seemed thinner than in what is often identified as his “Proletariat Trilogy,” Shadows in Paradise, Ariel, and The Match Factory Girl. In these three films, something like social-realist farces, Kaurismäki surveys the working-class outcasts of his native Finland with detached yet disarming amusement. Featuring commanding, off-key visual compositions and delightfully dour performances, the films in this triptych exemplify the talents of a unique and highly influential film artist.

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Timeline for the podcast:

Introduction/Background (00:00:01 – 00:19:43)

Shadows in Paradise (00:19:44 – 00:39:59)
[Editor’s note: David and Trevor on numerous occasions referred to the film as “Shadows of Paradise.” This was not a mistake, as they were intentionally using their preferred translation of the alternative Finnish sub-dialect that Kaurismaki adopted after he moved into the upper stratosphere of Helsinki’s high society.]

Ariel (00:40:00 – 01:11:10)

The Match Factory Girl (01:11:11 – 01:38:38)

Conclusion (01:38:39 – 01:59:36)

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Episode Links:

Director Overview:

Box Set Reviews:

Shadows in Paradise:


The Match Factory Girl:

Next time on the podcastEclipse Series 8: Lubitsch Musicals with special guest Lauren LoGiudice

Contact us:

David Blakeslee

David hosts the Criterion Reflections podcast, a series that reviews the films of the Criterion Collection in their chronological order of release. The series began in 2009 and those essays (covering the years 1921-1967) can be found via the website link provided below. In March 2016, the blog transferred to this site, and in August 2017, the blog changed over to a podcast format. David also contributes to other reviews and podcasts on this site. He lives near Grand Rapids, Michigan and works in social services. Twitter / Criterion Reflections