Saturday, December 30, 2006

Farewell, 2006

And so, the year comes to an end to the sound of rain. This is certainly the oddest weather for the new year's eve's eve. Clearly I remember new year's eves so cold I could not wear enough clothes to keep warm during the midnight fireworks. Also I remember several new year's eves with lots and lots of snow.

And what do we have now? Temperatures around +5 C and pouring rain. Odd, indeed.

But never mind the weather, I've been saying my goodbyes to this year by enjoying culture. Indoors.

Yesterday I went to see a play called Einstein, Weinstein & Wittgenstein performed on the small stage of the city theatre. It was a delightful romp about the two very famous professors, Einstein and Wittgenstein - and a third guy, perhaps less known by name but definitely known by habit to all people.

As the play is written by M.A. Numminen, the Finns should know what to expect of the text. Lots of witty references to popular culture, a whole lot of stuff from the actual theories of Einstein & Wittgenstein and well, lots of lewdness and absurd humour too.

Turns out that Mr. Weinstein is, as anyone who speaks any German can guess from his name, the master of drinking and intoxication. The "genie of the bottle", so to say. He manages to confuse the two serious professors by his antics - especially Wittgenstein is quite baffled at times. When Einstein tries to explain the world with physics, Wittgenstein through language, Weinstein pours them more wine.

The actor playing Wittgenstein was my new favourite, Mika Kujala, who was Death in the musical Elisabeth. (Remember my squees over him as Death? I thought so.) This time his role had less grandeur, but the socially awkward Wittgenstein was very endearing. He was serious, broody, shy and insecure. And funny as heck.

Einstein was played by Petri Rajala, a favourite of mine for many years now. I've seen him in several plays and even performed with him. (He's also a popular troubadour and he was playing in the same event where I and my friends were dancing - so in the end he played us a serenade and we danced to it. One of my fondest memories of performing!) His Einstein was silly and wise at the same time.

But the funniest of them all was the almost child-like Weinstein, played by Stefan Karlsson. He made Weinstein an epitome of the cliched university student / research assistant. Spending most of his time in bars and pubs, having a jolly good time doing what he knows best. Namely, researching the bottle, its contents and the effects of said contents on people. And for some reason he kept changing hats all the time.

After the play I was humming Wittgenstein's words to a tune they sang at the end of the play. "Worüber man nicht sprechen kann, darüber muss man schweigen." And I remembered why Wittgenstein's theories were among my favourites when I studied philosophy in senior high. In other words, if you have a chance, go see the play. It's entertaining on quite many levels.

Today's dose of culture was a movie. Guillermo del Toro's newest fantasy piece, Pan's Labyrinth (or El Laberinto del Fauno). It's a story of a young Spanish girl, who moves with her pregnant mother to live with her new step-father. It's the year 1944 and Ofelia's step-father is a cruel army captain of Franco's army, who coldbloodedly kills rebels and innocent bystanders alike.

To survive the horrors of her new home, Ofelia escapes to a fantasy world, where she is the long lost princess of the Underworld. She meets a faun in a labyrinth near the mill-turned-military-base she has to call home. The ancient faun gives her different tasks to fulfill in order for her to be able to return to her "real father", the King of the Underworld.

The movie is no bright spring picnic. It's cruel, gruesome and dark. It's disturbing, graphic and yet there is comfort to the idea of a little girl finding a way to cope with the bloody real world.
If faeries and fauns give some relief from the constant fear of the captain or the fear for her mother's and unborn baby brother's health, who can blame the girl?

Del Toro's work is impressive. The cuts between reality and fantasy are seamless, the imagery haunting.

The only thing that annoyed me about the film was the translation. I don't know if it was on purpose (it probably was), but there were ridiculous mistakes in the verb forms the faun used. I don't know enough Spanish to be able to tell whether the original words were also slightly misused archaic forms as the Finnish ones were (you know, of the type "olkootte" instead of "olkaatte" and so on). If they were, and the mistakes in the Finnish version were on purpose, my complains have no base, but until someone can confirm that the Spanish the faun spoke was also a bit off the proper grammar, I'm going to be annoyed. It's not like the old Finnish über-polite verb forms are familiar to most people anymore (they'd probably sound equally odd to almost any Finnish teen, whether they were correct or incorrect), but well, I suppose I'm a nit-picker when it comes to such details.

There. It's already half past midnight, so the last day of the year is well on its way. Since I probably won't be blogging later today, this is where I wish you all a very happy and prosperous year 2007! Let it be a year of wishes coming true for all of us.

See you in 2007, folks. :)

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