Happy Birthday, Suomi!

{mosimage}It's Finland's birthday! Today the country celebrates its declaration of independence from the Russian empire. It has not been an easy way down the road since 1917. One civil war, a war against the Soviet Union during World War II and a severe economical crisis at the beginning of the nineties before joining European Union have been the major obstacles in 90 years of sovereignty of the Republic of Finland. The recently released DVD Itsenäinen Suomi describes the most important events along this long road.

Nowadays Finland is a healthy country that enjoys an established welfare state system, ranks at the top of technology development and also at the top of the lists about education among youngsters. But how did it all begin? That's what Itsenäinen Suomi (Independent Finland) tells. By the way, don't be scare if you don't speak a word of Finnish, the dvd has English subtitles to reach a wider audience.

The documentary begins with a birth. At the same time as the parliament declares the independence of Finland, a baby is born in a house in the woods of Finland. She's Aino and her life, the life of an average working class Finn in the 20th century, will be told while history is being made for Finland.

Aino tells about the Civil War, about Paavo Nurmi and the mighty Finnish long distance runners who won so many medals at the Olympics, the "Lotta" nurses during the Second World War, the reconstruction of the country, the alcohol prohibition, the beggining of the electronics industry, the relations with the Soviet Union and the leftish opinions of the students in the sixties.

But this is not Forrest Gump. No fiction here. The film is based on archival footage. For a foreigner it will be very thrilling to see the White Army march through the streets of Helsinki or to see President Kekkonen  establishing good relations with the Soviet Union or the old cable factory in Ruoholahti or lots of rubber boots being made by Nokia. All the typical Finnish symbols can be seen.

Itsenäinen Suomi
was written by Antti Tuuri. It as a light tale, though. There are no deep political analyses or historical findings. But it is a nice introduction to the recent history of Finland. In spite of not being marketed for foreigners and tourist, this documentary would be appealing to those who cannot easily find images about Finland and its story. For Finns, it might not bring anything new, just a recognition of well known images and story from History class.