Exhibition review Bambi’s Horror Comes Near: Milja Viida’s Artistic Film Works Echoing the Left Mother’s Warning Whispers

Satu encounters the description of the relationship between man and animal in Milja Viida’s Bambi.

Film work

Milja Viita: Bambi – the darkness washed away 27.2. until the gallery in Hippolyte (Yrjönkatu 8–10). Tue – Fri 12–17, Sat – Sun 12–16.

Milja Viidan Bambi (2019–2022) is a skilful interpretation of what turns 100 this year Felix Salten (1869–1945) from the original story.

Salten’s follow-up story, originally aimed at the adult audience, appeared in the newspaper Neue Freue Press in the autumn of 1922. Later, Salten wrote the novel Bambi – the story of the forest (1923), on the basis of which the classic Disney film was released in 1942.

About ten minutes long Bambi presented in the gallery at Hippolyte as a film copy. The movie projector standing in the middle of the gallery hums and screams loudly. There is a stearin scent in the room from the candles fluttering behind the glass panels attached to the wall. The film itself consists of shimmeringly abstract color fields and glimpses of the nimble Bambi.

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Artist Kari Yli-Annala opens the background of the work in the text he wrote for the exhibition. On the wall of the gallery, on the surface of the glass plates protecting the candles, there is a fixing silver accumulated in a crumbly black cloud, which is created by “washing” the film during its development process. In the process, the exposed silver adheres to the film and the unexposed one falls to the bottom of the mounting basin.

This dark precipitate is the “washed away darkness” referred to in the name of the exhibition.

Darkness spreads over Bambi’s story in a multidimensional way.

I’m listening Bambin a soundtrack that is a clever compression from a Disney movie. Among the dark music resounding whispering warnings of the left mother and melodies distracting with distressing emotions are interrupted by fluttering flutes depicting innocent enthusiasm.

Still image from Milja Viida’s work Bambi (2019–2022).

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Result is startlingly charged. Behind the childish joy and wonder is a constant downturn of fear and fright.

The effect is enhanced in the image narration, which uses special close-ups to focus on Bambi’s cheeks and slender forehead. The power tool is reminiscent of the camera surveillance familiar from persecution films, where the persecutor observes his victim, whenever with a binoculars, a camera or a gun.

In many ways, Salten’s original story was more brutal and distressing than a Disney cute movie. The story of Bambi, who was orphaned by a hunter’s bullet, was later interpreted as a description of the atmosphere of fear between the world wars, among other things.

The cloak appends to the tale a current description of the relationship between man and animal. The same theme was already featured in the artist’s 2019 Risto Jarva short film Animal bridge U-3033 (2018). In the documentary, the animals in the forest are seen crossing the highway with a concrete bridge below which heavy traffic roars.

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