EDINBURGH | GLASGOW | ABERDEEN | INVERNESS | DUNDEE | PERTH

The White Reindeer

* * * * -

Haunting semi-horror set in Lapland

Image of The White Reindeer

Erik Blomberg/ Finland/ 1952/ 68 mins

On dual-format Blu-ray/ DVD from Mon 8 Apr 2019

Reindeers pulling sledges, quaint folk costumes, glittering snowy landscapes… This lyrical, dreamlike story has an ethereal quality aided by a great symphonic score (Einar Englund) and the tremendous vision of Blomberg who wrote, directed and edited the film.

Love blossoms in Lapland between Aslak (Kalervo Nissila) and Pirita (Mirjami Kuosmanen, who was married to the director) and they are wed. But as the bride feels her new husband might be losing interest in her, what with all the herding of the reindeer sweeping majestically across the tundra, she seeks help from the local shaman. Bribing him with bread, cheese and vodka he casts a spell: if she kills the first living thing on her way home she will bewitch any reindeer herder who sees her. As is the nature of fairy tales the spell spells disaster. The first thing she sees is an adorable white reindeer fawn. The prediction comes true but not quite as Pirita expects.

This shamefully neglected movie is a mythical retelling of a Sami folktale; the age-old story of good versus evil, and about being careful what you wish for. It’s not strictly a horror film, and it’s in no way merely sentimental either. There are echoes of Dracula as much as Ford’s The Searchers.  Yes, some of the acting is a little swivel-eyed but there are scenes of haunting beauty that linger in the imagination.