Eternal Roads of Illusion and Misery
The Eternal Road is a painful tribute to the gory illusions people build and the beautiful realities they destroy in the name of nation states and ideology. Film review by MUHHAMMED NOUSHAD.
The Soviet state, like any state founded on nationality and an exclusive ideology, had had several massacres based on imagined or constructed rivalry. American Finns were one among them and Finnish filmmaker Antti-Jussi Annila pays homage to the suffering of this often forgotten community in his 2017 film The Eternal Road. The film is a painful political tribute to the gory illusions people build and the beautiful realities they destroy. The modern state is inevitably a horrible institution whether it is run by communists or capitalists or whosoever. History has enough evidence and the story of the immigrant American Finns in the Soviet Union is yet another one.
The Soviet state, led by Stalin, wanted to build a socialist republic and it doubted the English speaking immigrant community who came from Finland after the New York exchange crashed in the early 1930s. Their crime: they were in America once, they spoke English and they didn’t fit well into the Soviet imagination of the nationality. This story sheds light on many political questions of our times, including migration, nationality, citizenship and ethnicity.
Jussi is a middle-aged man who is abducted from his own home in Finland, brought forcefully to work with the communist state. His mission: to spy on an American Finnish community and report regularly to a ruthless Russian internal affairs officer. Jussi gets a new name and passport and his past is getting obliterated. His wife and two kids waiting for him back home receive an official letter saying that their father is no more. Every letter that Jussi sends home to prove otherwise gets confiscated and they never reach their addressees. Truth travels very late in times of war and emergencies.
Meanwhile, destiny plays its game as well. Jussi gets another family to take care of. People in crises are natural families, always and everywhere. They take care of each other’s souls and that is how they sustain hope. In spite of being a husband who badly wants to reunite with his wife and kids, he agrees to sleep with another lonely shattered woman. When her mother warns that Jussi has a wife and family in Finland, she states – “If I have learned anything in life, it is that nothing is permanent”. True. She gives birth to a son of Jussi.
(Spoiler ahead) The Eternal Road, like all those great films of this genre, has the clichéd triumph of the human will climax. Jussi loses his new-found wife and son, despite his decision to take him back home, and painstakingly manages to reach back home, risking his life through the Soviet killing fields and shooting sprees. The film has disturbing violence of men, women and children being massacred in the Soviet killing fields.