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Aki Kaurismäki’s Cinematic Exploration: Depicting Lives in the Margins of Materialistic Societies

2023.12.15

#MOVIE

Finnish film director Aki Kaurismäki, known for his distinctive humor and elegant screen compositions, has captured the hearts of many fans. After announcing his retirement as a filmmaker in 2017, he has made a comeback with his latest work, “Fallen Leaves.”

As anticipation builds for this recent release, many readers may be curious about the directorial style of Kaurismäki and the reasons behind his widespread fan support. In this article, we asked writer Takeshi Kizu, who is also a devoted fan of the director, to reflect on Kaurismäki’s past works and delve into his artistic characteristics and appeal.


Kaurismäki’s Retirement Announcement and Return to Depicting Lives on the Margins of Society

Aki Kaurismäki is a filmmaker who has always maintained that the working people are the protagonists of his films. Aki Kaurismäki is a filmmaker who has always maintained this stance, which has two major meanings: first, to shine a light on those who live on the margins of society. The other is that even in the small lives of these nameless people, there are moments that should be depicted on film. The core strength of Kaurismäki’s films is born of such stubborn conviction.

When Kaurismäki, one of the leading Finnish filmmakers of our time, announced his retirement upon the release of his last film, “Beyond Hope” (2017), I was shocked, as were his fans around the world. And I was more sentimental than necessary. I wondered if it was because Kaurismäki had been looking at the plight of the poor that he no longer wanted to make films that encouraged the common people because the social conditions of our time are so bleak.

So when I heard that Kaurismäki had returned to filmmaking as if nothing had happened with his new film “Dead Leaves” (2023), I was a little taken aback. I felt ashamed of my sentimentality ……, but anyway, it is common for a filmmaker who has announced his retirement to retract it, and he is also a person who makes statements at press conferences that I am not sure if he is joking or serious, so I have come to think that such things do happen. I thought that it was just one of those things that happen. Above all, I was simply happy to be able to see the new film, which I had thought would never be made again. It was enough for me to be able to see the present state of the director, who was approaching the age when he might have retired.

Aki Kaurismäki

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