Blade Runner 2049 - The Finnish
No, that isn't a spelling mistake. This really is about the Finnish in Blade Runner 2049. There are a few spoilers in this, nothing big, but you may want to check out now.
I went to see the film a second time, primarily to immerse myself again in that world. Despite the intensely pessimistic vision it offers, its design and cinematography are wondrous and absorbing and I wanted it all again, while I could still get it on the big screen. And it was a big screen, a bigger and better one in Manchester. I went with a friend, which enabled some lively discussion afterwards. I'm glad to say she liked it too, and made several good points. The main one was about the 'glaring plot hole' towards the end (ie. how does so-and-so know how to find *cough* in order to effect a rescue): something's been cut out there, maybe only a bit of script, but something which might have explained it. There were other reasons to see it again. Many were to do with particular scenes and conversations; I wanted to see if I'd missed important details, or things people had said. Or did I just want to see my new favourite 'robot prostitute' again (sorry Pris!), Mariette (above)?
The thing is, I mainly wanted to cement it in my mind, now I knew it was the same world as that of the original Blade Runner. It could be a very long while before I can even buy a dvd, especially now I know I may want to wait for a 'Director's Cut' or some other sort of longer edition. They've denied there'll be any longer version, so I don't know about that. Or they could be lying...
Anyway, last Monday I went a third time. I was in Preston for an appointment, so I took the opportunity afterwards. Why, you ask? Well, it's sort of to do with those robot prostitutes (yes yes, I know they're replicants, not robots). I'd discovered I'd been lacking in a classic case of how you should spot something you know about, or recognise a person you know, but you don't, because it's so out of context.
Recall the scene in which K is standing at a bar, and is approached by three of those prostitutes, or, as the cast list has it; Mariette, and "Doxie #1" and "Doxie #2". Well, I didn't recognise #1, though I'm familiar with her and have seen a couple of her films. More to the point, when she speaks, briefly, I vaguely registered that, as in one or two other scenes, a bit of foreign was being spoken. Funnily enough, a part of my brain was vainly trying to draw attention to this but it was swept aside as I followed the developing conversation with Mariette. Weird how the brain works.
After I'd seen Blade Runner 2049 a second time, I discovered that one or two Finnish culture sites were making a fuss, about actually hearing Finnish in a Hollywood film. I knew straight away they were referring to this short interchange, so I had to go and hear it again. There was my first excuse for not noticing it before; it really is a very brief slice of speech. She says two things, first that he's a Blade Runner - those words being in English - then that he is dangerous. In subtitles. Seeing subtitles, I'm afraid, is probably why I stopped listening carefully to the speech. But this time, I was straining every sinew in my ears (biologically improbable I know) to catch it, the crucial second bit which is just in Finnish. At last, a smidgen of credit for me, because although it's mumbled and barely audible, and the subtitles were needed, I pieced the phrase together before getting back to my dictionary. "He is dangerous" = "Hän on vaarallinen".
The actress is called Krista Kosonen, and well respected in Finland. I've seen a couple of her films, Jadesoturi (Jade Warrior) and Suden vuosi (The Year of the Wolf - spoiler alert: there are no wolves in it), both good, and she's very good indeed. There seems to be a pattern, in which Hollywood wants decent actors on the cheap, and/or needs unknown faces who are also experienced actors, and trawls foreign parts. Blade Runner 2049 is packed with them. True, the Cuban actress who plays K's girlfriend already works in America but certainly I'd never heard of her. Then there's the Swiss actress playing the daughter, and best of all the Dutch actress playing the deadly replicant. I have no idea if this aspect of casting was deliberate, but it's nice to have grey areas. When Hollywood films are full of famous names, it's hard to avoid preconceptions as to who's a goodie or a baddie - rather like, on a trivial level, when you spot a celebrity guest star in Murder She Wrote or Columbo, it removes some of the mystery about who dunnit.
The characters of Blade Runner 2049 do develop and change, to varying degrees. Even Luv (Sylvia Hoeks) is fascinating and ambiguous and there seem to be hidden layers to her agenda. Joi's path through the story is poignant and I did wonder at one point if she was the key to solving that plot hole I was talking about; but on my third viewing that seems not to be so. K himself has some fascinating moments in the film, especially ones in which he obviously withholds a response from someone. We're told at the start of the film that the most important new rule in this future world of replicants is that they obey. It turns out that the picture there is not a black and white one. And they have definitely learned how to lie.
I hope as many people as possible managed to see the film without knowing too much. Now, as you can see, I want some explanations; and more and more, I want them, some of them at least, to be revealed in a third film. Whether or not it features any spoken Finnish. Please, please, let that not be in another thirty years.