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Finding a Way to the Suomenlinna Toy Museum [Marjo Tokkari, Finland, 2018]

For all of the great things that technological advancements have offered the world, its ability to emulate older, and sometimes even obsolete forms of technology has yet to prove convincing. There is a likeness that these ‘so-called’ improved copies allude to but can never faithfully recapture. It is a perennially curious incidence, where new innovations usurp their so-called outdated counterparts, only for the obsolete technology to become an object of nostalgic heraldry and endearment. In cultural art and media spaces then, we are often left in a resigned state of ironic homage, tongue-in-cheek parody and knowing pastiche.

It is very much the experience here in Finding a Way to the Suomenlinna Toy Museum (the title tells us everything we need to know). It is a silent, black and white commercial film written and filmed for the eponymous museum, and uses a scratchy filter to emulate a vintage, hand-cranked camera from the early decades of cinema. The action is fast and the ragtime music provides another nod to this century-old era (with a Charlie Chaplin gag to boot). A mother, father and their son take a walking trip around the town in search for the museum, passing various sites along the way as friendly locals point them along their course.

It’s all very twee and quirky but for a commercial idea it’s quite long. When the family finally gets to the museum, the effect is fairly anti-climactic; no real joyous release or element of surprise, and some of the toys wouldn’t seem out of place in a horror film. The film’s intentions are innocent enough, but the separate elements never seem to add up to much more than a cute idea.

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