The White Reindeer

Thu, Aug 28, 2014

Dir. Erik Blomberg, 1952.
74 min. Finland. 35mm.
In Finnish with English subtitles.
With Mirjami Kuosmanen and Kalervo Nissilä

35mm print courtesy of The Cohen Film Collection. Special thanks to Tim Lanza, The Cohen Film Collection, and Julian Antos, Chicago Northwest Film Society. 

Steeped in local color and Sami myth, The White Reindeer is a beautiful Finnish horror film from 1952 shot on location amid the snowy expanses of Lapland. Mirjami Kuosmanen, co-writer and wife of director Erik Blomberg, stars as a sexually frustrated young woman who consults a Sami shaman for advice. Upon sacrificing a white reindeer, she’s granted the power to become irresistible to any man she desires. And yet in exchange she must periodically transform into such a creature, luring hunters into remote locations, where she regains human form and feasts on their blood (much like a cross between siren, werewolf, and vampire).

One of the most lyrical and unique works of its genre, The White Reindeer forgoes almost all horror tropes in favor of the poetic naturalism of documentary filmmakers like Robert Flaherty and Arne Sucksdorff. The film’s stunning, snow-swept vistas beg to be seen on the big screen in 35mm.

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