Ukonvaaja-The Hammer of Ukko

I came across this documentary while searching for something else Finnish related on YouTube and was spirited away by its magic immediately. Within the first opening sequences of the trailer the beautiful scenery combined with traditional Kantele music had me intrigued. In the trailer the narration goes on to speak powerfully about ancient Finnish animistic nature religion and practices way before Christianity took over. As the music becomes more cinematic the time lapses of Finnish forests, lakes, and animals brings wonderment of their primal existence. The actual film goes on to explore how industrialization and modern living has effected what ancestors held dear. Their rich tapestries of nature entwined stories and beliefs nearly forgotten by new generations. It’s not exactly a new topic, but realizing how the Finnish culture is shaped by these stories and wilderness is a bit sad to see it fade with technological advancement.

A. W. Yrjänä the narrator, does a very good job at making you feel as though you are indeed taking a step back in time and listening to an elder speak to you about the secrets of the forests. He also is a musician and poet who provides some of the soundtrack pieces. Dark folk played along with not only various stone age sites he takes you to visit but saunas, cabins, canoes, really invokes the atmosphere of times before. A. W. has studied theology and comparative religion and his texts carry a heavy emphasis on mythological imagery. His band CMX follows suit with those symbolic texts which he says adds to the appeal of the music. Throughout the film A.W. leaves you with endearing words that again seem to carry an everyday melancholy feel about them maybe that’s just his tone but his words stick.

To get a feel of the Finnish forest you need to touch it, taste it, listen to it, smell it, see it. Our ancestors stories are deeply felt and genuine. Although they are part of the big family of the world mythologies they have their own special feel to them. They are full of our dear forests and our clear lakes. In nature, every moment is eternal.

-A.W. Yrjänä

There are some sequences that include some very stunning animations and illustrations of the gods and goddesses giving it an almost “Secret of the Kells” feel. I think it adds a new depth to the tales and was honestly unexpected but nonetheless very well implemented and welcomed. Near the end of the film, A.W. goes on to speak with others about Finnish society in modern times. They talk about how being disconnected from the earth is being disconnected from their very essence. From educators, historians, folklorists, archeologists and members of Taivaannaula (those who still practice the old ways) they all come together to realize how integral these stories are to their country’s and culture’s sense of identity. I found it to be soul stirring to say the least, even emotional at times seeing how passionate these people are about their environments and history. I highly recommend watching it. Beautiful film.

Thanks for reading,

-Meghan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s