["Our Boys in the Air, Us on the Ground"] Finnish film (1934). Suomen Filmiteollisuus. Directed and written by Erkki Karu. Cast includes Kaarlo Angerkoski, Martta Kontula, Joel Rinne and Irja Simola. 121 minutes. Black and white.
Pilots of the Finnish air force compete in a race across southern Finland to test the limits of their planes. In the process, two of them fall in love with women they meet on their travels. When a fire breaks out at a farmhouse, Erkki (Angerkoski) rushes to the rescue of a young girl, and is knocked out by a falling plank. He experiences a nightmare vision of how war might affect the people of Finland.
The third in a sequence of military-themed films made by Karu, but his first for his newly established Suomen Filmiteollisuus studio, Our Boys in the Air is almost entirely concerned with the impact of Technology. It is, in essence a War film without a war, propaganda designed to instil its audience with an appreciation of the uses of flying machines, but also the form that a Near Future conflict might take, made at a time when Finns rightly feared an Invasion from the Soviet Union. The plot, such as it is, is largely a vehicle for introducing the planes of the Finnish air force, and showcasing their capabilities. The air race sequence allows the cinematographer to make a prolonged beauty pass over the city of Hamina, the radial streets of which attest to its own origins in the deployment of military Weapons, when it was laid out as the fortress of Fredrikshamn in 1723. Scenes of student pilots in lectures allow the incorporation, seemingly uncut, of an entire training film demonstrating the relative strengths and effects of modern bombs. The film's most notable element, however, is the 25-minute sequence that ensues after Erkki's injury, in which he dreams of the onset of Future War, in which Helsinki is bombed, the residents don gas-masks and run for shelters, and firemen pull survivors from the rubble. But unlike its US analogue Men Must Fight (1933), Our Boys in the Air makes no attempt to create a sense of the future in its setting. The bombing raid that Erkki envisions could take place the day after tomorrow, confronting the viewer with a realistic account of what will happen if any of the technologies on display were actually put to use.
"Thank God it was just a fever-dream, and not real," comments Erkki's father when he wakes. Karu's film, however, would prove to be all too accurate a Prediction of what lay in store for Finland in World War Two. [JonC]
see also: Finland.