Peter von Bagh (1943-2014) is an inimitable Finnish film historian and an expert on popular culture. He is highly respected in the film industry, both in Finland and abroad and was personally acquainted with many members of the Finnish and international cinematic communities. He was, for example, invited to join the 2004 Cannes Film Festival jury.
Professor von Bagh’s written works are not dryly theoretical – he surrenders his soul to the cinematic experience. For him, the history of film is a succession of magical moments captured on screen; moments that reflect universal human emotions and a range of unique historical perspectives.
Peter von Bagh prefers to examine films and stars that he considers to be ‘larger than life’. His eloquent style is faithful to that of the Cahiers du Cinema French film essay, and von Bagh succeeds in conveying the emotional impact of film to his readers.
The work Aki Kaurismäki is based on interviews with one of Finland’s internationally best-known directors. In this book, published simultaneously in French, von Bagh conducts a similarly penetrating analysis of Kaurismäki’s career and films as François Truffaut did with a director he admired in Hitchcock. Kaurismäki, well-known for his cryptic statements, speaks to his friend von Bagh in an uncharacteristically open and detailed manner.
Although the immense Blue Song (Sininen laulu) is based on von Bagh’s television series of the same name, it is a completely independent work on 20th Century Finnish art, film and literature. It is based on the numerous interviews with artists conducted for the television series, and brings out the unbelievable richness and subtleties of artistic life in a small country.