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Le Renne Blanc

(Valkoinen Peura / The White Reindeer)
Sponsored by: Le Cinéclub: The Film Society
  • Finland 1952
  • 75 min
  • 16mm
  • Finnish with French subtitles
From the archives of Montreal’s Le Cinéclub: The Film Society comes this very rare film print, commercially unavailable in subtitled form. Hosted by Philippe Spurrell, founder and director of Le Cinéclub: The Film Society.

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Director: Erik Blomberg
Screenplay: Erik Blomberg, Mirjami Kuosmanen
Cast: Mirjami Kuosmanen, Kalervo Nissilä, Åke Lindman
Producers: Arne Tarkas
Distributor: Le Cinéclub: The Film Society

Screens with...

Le poulailler des temps perdus   

Le poulailler des temps perdus

1977 | 14 min
French language


The lonely wife of a traveling reindeer herder asks the local shaman to put a spell on her so that her husband finds her too irresistible to be away from. Problem is, it also makes all the other men of the village lust after her. Complicating things further, a side effect of the shaman’s “love potion” is that she sometimes turns into a feared, great white reindeer. Whenever lone hunters track the beast down, they stop short of actually killing it when it suddenly transforms into a beautiful, seductive woman with fangs.

How to make a frightening film involving a vegetarian reindeer? Director/cinematographer Erik Blomberg was able to create an atmospheric work that brings together elements of the vampire and werewolf legends. His highly effective, rhythmic camerawork and naturalistic directing style is perfectly combined with a primitive music score. Filmed in remote areas of Finland, the story seems to take place in a timeless era and although the narrative might seem ludicrous on paper, it works beautifully on film. The female lead is played by the oddly stunning Mirjami Kuosmanen, a look-alike of Deborah Harry from Blondie. In one standout scene, she panics deliriously at the sound of the hunters sharpening their cold metal spears for the deer hunt in a scene as powerful as the climax of Fritz Lang's M. For decades now, respected names such as Terrence Malick, Terry Gilliam and Ken Russell were planning to direct a remake of the film, but none could get rights. There was even talk in 1990 of Isabella Rossellini playing the seductive lead.

Being primarily a cameraman, director Erik Blomberg has skillfully composed shots of the icy Finnish tundra that evoke loneliness, mysticism and impending doom, and images so haunting that they linger long after the film is over—including the eerie reindeer cemetery, a twisted forest of antlers poking up through the snow. Such scenes are part of what makes VALKOINEN PEURA the most celebrated of all horror films in its country of origin. Note: For those who can’t read French subtitles, worry not. The story is quite easy to follow.

—Philippe Spurrell

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