Time of Roses (1969)

aka Ruusujen aika
Article 4728 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 1-4-2015
Directed by Risto Jarva
Featuring Arto Tuominen, Ritva Vepsa, Tarja Markus
Country: Finland
What it is: Science fiction art film

In the year 2011, a civil servant who makes documentaries for the state chooses as his subject an ordinary woman forty years earlier and studies her life in order to gain an understanding of the time. Towards that end, he recruits a woman who looks like her, but this woman associates with people who disapprove of the documentarian and the policies of the state.

Here’s something you don’t encounter everyday; a Finnish science fiction art film. As I’d expect from such a movie, it’s light on special effects and heavy on political talk. My copy was apparently designed for English speaking audiences; not only does it have English subtitles, but the opening scenes feature long voice-overs in English explaining the basic situation of the movie; I suspect that these voice-overs were not in the original Finnish version. Actually, I’m grateful for them; given that my copy of the movie is hardly in pristine condition, it makes up for the fact that many of the English subtitles (in white on a black-and-white film, which means that when the background is white, you can’t read a thing) are unintelligible. The theme is basically about political manipulation of the media, which is certainly a topic that is still relevant today. The movie does make a few bows to being a science fiction movie; we see a strange new sport which looks like a cross between basketball and soccer, the movie seemingly predicts the use of personal cell phones, and there’s a scene where dancers in a nightclub wear headphones so no one else is bothered by the music. I’m less impressed by the scenes of (I think) drug use, where people sit in heap together and make strange hand gestures. I suppose it takes place in a dystopia of sorts, but except for a scene where a striker is murdered for breaking into the airwaves, we don’t get a lot of insight into just how this dystopia represses its citizens. All in all, I found it an interesting if flawed movie, but it’s pretty much for the art movie crowd.

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