In spoken Finnish with English subtitles.
8 p.m. showtime, with $7 admission.
Wednesday, Dec. 21, the PFS’ regular weekly series of underappreciated cinema from around the globe unearths a true rarity of outstanding world cinema: 1952’s eerie Finnish horror-fantasy “Valkoinen peura” aka “The White Reindeer.” This gem of atmospheric B&W cinematography won the International Prize for Best Fairy Tale Film at the 1953 Cannes Film Fest (it was also nominated at for the Grand Prize at that same Cannes Fest) and took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film when it was belatedly released in the U.S. four years later. It also boasts an almost unheard-of 100 percent positive rating on RottenTomatoes.com.
As it’s based on pre-Christian Finnish mythology, it’s not a Christmas film per se; however, elements of its plot make it a suitably psychotronic booking for this time of year. A young, newly wed Laplander pines for her husband during his long trips away from their village, and seeks help from a local shaman to strengthen her marriage. Unfortunately, there is an unintended side effect: she is transformed at night into a shape-shifting, blood-drinking white reindeer that supernaturally attracts her fellow male villagers.
Those expecting shocks and terror are in for a surprise — this is not a frightening film, but rather an eerie, moody rumination on love, loneliness and mysticism that is set in an almost impossibly bleak and frigid landscape. It’s an unforgettable, 64-year-old snapshot of this sparsely populated and pristinely beautiful part of the world. The PFS will screen the definitive version of this exceedingly rare film, which was restored in 1986 and has never been released in the U.S.