Animation and History

Two films about the Finnish Civil War 1918

Camera Cagliostro has a strong tradition in producing animated films for adult audiences too. Especially through puppet animation, it is possible to deal with the hard and emotional topics like the stories from the Finnish Civil War of 1918, which was one of the cruellest in the history of Europe.


Director Katariina Lillqvist was born in Tampere, which was the central battlefield of the Civil War. Still during her schoolyears in the 70`s, the war history officially remained as a taboo- but every childen still knew, on which side of the war their grandparents fighted. The mass graves were unlabelled, but the stories and songs survived, and finally the third generation felt a strong desire to deal with the censored thematics through art and literature.

So did Lillqvist too, and her film ” The Maiden and and the Soldier ” ( 1995 ) was her first attempt to unveil the secrets of the war. The story was based on the memories of the director´s grandmother, but the visual style and the ballad-like dramatisation was still leaning towards the more folkloristic genre.

On ” Far Away from Ural ” ( 2008 ) , Lillqvist worked with the thematics more directly: the film is based on interviews and authentic archive materials from the battle of Tampere during spring 1918. Together with Finnish writer Hannu Salama, she collected the stories for almost six years, and the first version of the ” Ural ” was a radio feature for Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE at 2006.

Although the radio feature was more controversial than the film, only the visual version caused the biggest scandal ever in the history of Finnish animation. This was mostly due to one single picture, which was prematurely published in Finnish yellow newspaper Iltalehti in March 2008. In the picture, a puppet alteration of Finnish first president Mannerheim is posing in a a velvet corset together with his Kirghis lover, a servant boy who later died mysteriously in Finland. Speaking openly about homosexuality of one of the most mythological heroes in the modern Finnish history , though it was not the main topic of the film, was still too much for the conservatives and extreme Lutherans of the North : the film caused a heated debate in all Finnish medias, the nation was again divided into two opposite parties, and a parlamentary request on the censoring of the film was made in April 2008 by the Christian Democrats.