the cuckoo (2003)


director: alexander rogozhkin

ville haapasalo, anni-kristiina juuso, viktor bychkov

The Cuckoo begins with two condemned men, one a pacifist chained to a rock and left to die by his comrades, the other an old soldier denounced as a traitor and on his way to trial and likely execution. One is a Russian, the other a Finn fighting on the side of the Germans, and itís the final months of World War Two.

Alexander Rogozhkinís anti-war fable is set in the stark, ghostly forests of Scandinavia, and the two men, after escaping their death sentences, end up sheltered in the lonely hut of Anni, a pretty young Lapp widow (Anni-Kristiina Juuso), who doesnít care who fights for whom, or what, but considers herself blessed that two men have shown up on her doorstep.

The Finnish pacifist (Ville Haapasalo) is young and eager to help her out, while the Russian (Viktor Bychkov) is a poet, a bitter romantic whose hatred of fascists merges with his jealousy as Anni takes the Finn into her bed. None of them speak the same language, which means that only the audience, reading the subtitles, know whatís really happening, a truly clever tactic.

Rogozhkinís vivid wartime world is one where planes will swoop down from the sky to change fate, and magic can save lives, and like most anti-war films itís inspired by a gentle humanism thatís as hopefully noble as it is intentionally naÔve.