Noita palaa elamaan (1952)

aka The Witch
Article 2355 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 9-6-2007
Posting Date: 1-23-2008
Directed by Roland af Hallstrom
Featuring Mirja Mane, Toivo Makela, Hillevi Lagerstam

An archaeologist pulls a stake out of a grave that is believed to harbor a witch. Later, a naked woman mysteriously appears in the grave. The villagers believe she is a witch, but the archaeologist believes this is just superstition. Then strange things start happening…

Is she a witch or isn’t she? Only a Finnish translator knows for sure, and there weren’t any around for my viewing of this undubbed, unsubtitled Finnish horror movie. Most of the plot above I got from other sources after watching the movie, because it was a little difficult to piece together while watching it. However, I did enjoy it as much as I could despite the language barrier; this is the first Finnish horror movie I’ve seen, and it’s certainly different. At moments it recalls silent cinema and early talkies; certain music cues in particular gave me the feeling of the latter type of film. However, none of the early talkies would have a naked woman romping around as much as we have here; I don’t know how much nudity there was in the cinema of other countries at the time, but I was quite surprised to see this much skin in a movie from the early fifties. A lot of the details are quite vague, but I do know that the witch sows discord into the archaeologist’s marriage, she causes violent rivalry to break out among men for her charms, and the villagers like to chase her around with any handy farm implements. There are moments in the second half of the movie where I even began to wonder whether this might have been a comedy; it certainly doesn’t appear to be played for scares. At any rate, I’m glad this one finally showed up; it’s been on my hunt list for years.



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