Melancholian 3 Huonetta (2004)

Pirjo Honkasalo

Finland 2004, 1h 46min.

Pirjo Honkasalo films Russian and Chechen children being trained as soldiers to fight in a war that is taking their youth away. The melancholia and sadness of the people and places of the war are reflected in the aesthetics of this visually intriguing film.

At first glance, Pirjo Honkasalo’s newest film The 3 Rooms of Melancholia seems connected to some of the great, and often melancholic, globe-trotting European documentaries. Chantal Akerman’s D’Est (1993) comes to mind most readily, and there were moments when Honkasalo seemed to be following some of the same paths that Peter Mettler did in Gambling, Gods and LSD (2002). But as this comparison turns over in my mind, it slowly dawns on me that this nomadic film essay is in fact about one country: Russia.

Well, it’s about three countries: Russia, Chechnya, and Ingushetia. These are the three rooms that the film’s title makes reference to, although each section also opens with words that set a dark, brooding mood: the Russia section opens with the word “longing”; the Chechnya section opens with “breathing”; the Ingushetia section opens with “remembering”.


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