YIDFF 2007 International Competition
An Interview with Jouko Aaltonen (Director)

Times Change, Music Lives Forever

Q: Why did you decide to make this film?

JA: At first, I wanted to make a film about the political situation in 1970s Finland. I was originally planning to make this as a traditional documentary using traditional methods, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to incorporate the experiences and feelings of people from that era. I wanted to express the way the people at that time thought and felt. As part of this thought process, I realized that music was a very central element to all of this. I gradually began to think that it might be best to shift the focus point of the film to music itself.

Q: What were the reactions to this film in Finland? Also, how did young Finnish people react to this film?

JA: I was able to show this film in movie theaters in Finland. Thanks to this, many Finnish people were able to experience this film for themselves, and they often reacted positively. It is probably safe to say that Revolution is seen as the most popular documentary made in Finland to have been released since 1990. I think one of the reasons for this is that the politics of 1970s Finland remain important to this day and that history is incorporated into this film. I think Revolution drew the interest of many people due to this kind of historical relevance. Also, in terms of methods, I believe many people enjoyed the combination of two different types of media, film and music, to express a theme. Thanks to this method, we got a lot of positive reactions. Additionally, I feel that young people today have a strong interest in watching films like this. I think this is because this film tells them about the Finland of their parents’ generation, which is completely different from Finland of today. I believe this film also serves to direct young people to become more interested in history. Interestingly, the parents of young people today have not spoken with their children very much about what their generation did during the 1970s. In this way, the appearance of this film has given people a new opportunity to discuss what happened during the 1970s.

Q: This film alternates between contemporary and historical footage. Were you trying to contrast the two eras?

JA: It may look as if I’m trying to make a contrast, but if you observe the film very closely you will notice that they are singing old songs in a modern setting. What I wanted to express through this was that, even as they live today, they still carry the old songs of that era. That is the most fundamental idea in this film.

Q: The scene near the end of the film in the stadium made a very strong impression on me. What were your intentions in that scene?

JA: The most important thing about that scene is to contrast from the perspective of the couple between then and now. In the mid-70s, there was an enormous Communist 30th Anniversary Event held with over 40,000 audience members in attendance. However, now that movement no longer exists. There is nothing left but an empty stadium. In other words, the times change, and now all these people are able to do is look back on their past. The 1970s have already vanished. However, the songs they sung then still live on today. That is what I hoped to express.

(Compiled by Sanjo Yuri)

Interviewers: Sanjo Yuri, Tanno Emi / Interpreter: Imai Isao / Translator: Christopher Gregory
Photography: Kaito Yoshimasa / Video: Kaito Yoshimasa / 2007-10-07