Aku Louhimies to direct The Unknown Soldier
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- The Finnish director will be ready with the third version of the novel for Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence in 2017
Finnish director Aku Louhimies is about to make the leap from crime drama (8-Ball [+see also:
interview: Aku Louhimies
film profile], 2013) to real war: he will stage the third adaptation of Finnish author Väinö Linna’s 1954 novel The Unknown Soldier, to be premiered in December 2017, when Finland celebrates its 100th anniversary of independence.
Together with producer Mikko Tenhunen, Louhimies’ new production company, Suomi 2017, will realise the €7 million epic set as World War II is coming to a close, following a regiment of ordinary Finnish soldiers in the battlefield between Finland and the Soviet Union.
“This story is engraved in our national identity and should not be forgotten. To be true to the ideology of the original novel, I’m not keen on presenting heroes but want to illustrate the experience of war as realistically as possible,” said Louhimies, whose project is backed by Finnish pubcaster YLE and the Finnish Film Foundation.
Linna’s critically and publicly acclaimed depiction of the Continuation War was first filmed by Edvin Laine in 1955 – his The Unknown Soldier became the most successful film in the history of Finnish cinema: 2.8 million Finns, more than half of the population, saw it in the theatres.
Rauni Mollberg’s 1985 version was equally popular: both of them received Jussis, the Finnish national film prize (five and three, respectively), and they are considered part of the national heritage. This year, the UK’s Penguin Books published a new translation of the novel, Unknown Soldiers.
Louhimies has just returned from Dublin, where he has been directing Rebellion, a five-part television series about ”the violent birth of modern Ireland”, as seen from the perspective of a group of Dubliners during three weeks while Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rebellion raged. Ireland’s RTÉ Television has programmed the series for 2016.