One Man’s War

This 1973 film by Finnish director Risto Jarva, about a backhoe operator trying to make a go of it as an independent contractor, is a study in oppressive grays and blacks. In exterior shots the snow and mud of construction sites are weighed down by leaden skies, and in high-contrast interiors each heavily shadowed face is that of a loner, grotesquely separated from the surroundings. Jarva’s analysis is refreshingly leftist: the protagonist, squeezed by Finland’s free-market construction economy, is exploited from all sides and himself takes advantage of his friend, a laborer who in turn has a brief affair with the contractor’s wife. For much of the film the contractor and his family live in a trailer at a construction site, where the torn-up land serves as a metaphor for the free market’s chaos; Jarva’s style may not amount to an original vision, but it movingly communicates his social perspective. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Tuesday, July 28, 6:00, 312-443-3737. –Fred Camper

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.