Eight Deadly Shots
Kahdeksan Surmanluotia
AMC Kabuki CinemasTue, May 7, 2013 12:15 PM Not Available
Film Info
Section:World Cinema
Premiere Status:Finland
Year of Prod:1972
Running Time:316
Original Language:Finnish
dir:Mikko Niskanen
prod:Mikko Niskanen
scr:Mikko Niskanen
cam:Kimmo Simula
Juhani Voutilainen
Seppo Immonen
Juhani Sarro
Mikko Niskanen
Sakari Niskanen
Jorma Niskanen
editor:Jyrki Rapp
mus:Erkki Ertama
cast:Mikko Niskanen
Tarja-Tuulikki Tarsala
Tauno Paananen
Elina Liimatainen
Ari Vainiontaus
Mauno Argillander
Paavo Pentikäinen
source:Finnish Film Foundation
Kanavakatu 12
FAX: 358-9-6220-3060

It was a news report—a poor farmer kills four policemen—that inspired what all agree, including Aki Kaurismäki, is Finnish cinema’s masterpiece. Eight Deadly Shots is an epic drama, a Zola-esque depiction of life’s complicated reasons, where time and duration become little by little a hypnotic force: the very ordinary seems to float in a strange realm of unknown dimensions. The illegal distilling of moonshine becomes a form of social protest—the last such act for a powerless man, an illusory flame of freedom. Like children, men have retreated into the heart of nature, amidst snowdrifts or in the darkening summer night, forever on the margins of society. Even the production process seems to have had a hypnotic quality for those involved; the film was shot not only by its DP, but sometimes by whoever happened to be around, often director Niskanen himself. He also played the lead role and his portrayal is shattering, a performance so real that it is beyond what is taught in acting school. The film takes an "understand, not judge” approach to a horrific crime and achieves a kind of universal relevance, concrete and humane, combining the psychological, biological and social facts—with a sharp and merciless anthropological edge—a clenched fist.
-Peter von Bagh

Additional Information

Mikko Niskanen

Mikko Niskanen's (1929-90) output of 14 features is highly uneven. The first three (starting with The Boys, 1962) were about war, the following three about youth (headed by Skin, Skin, 1966); he was a son of a poor farmer family, and several of the films move on the borderline of countryside and town, still a poignant theme years after the belated urbanization of Finnish society. Niskanen's greatest films combine several thematic strands: the deeply emotional Gotta Run! (1981) is about three youngsters who can't find work; Eight Deadly Shots offered Niskanen's first opportunity to shoot a film in the region where he grew up, surrounded by people he had known all his life, both in front of and behind the camera.