School of Humanities



Sanna Peden


Start date

Feb 2006

Submission date

Oct 2011

Sanna Peden


"Our Aki" - The auteurial-national nexus and Aki Kaurismäki’s Finland trilogy


My thesis explores the interconnections of ‘Finnishness’ and ‘Kaurismäkianness’ in and around Aki Kaurismäki’s so-called Finland trilogy: Drifting Clouds (1996), The Man Without A Past (2002) and Lights in the Dusk (2006). The thesis addresses how Kaurismäki, whose work and public persona have tended to be critical of national institutions and preoccupations, has developed into an increasingly national figure in Finland’s years of Europeanisation.

In order to examine the links between ‘Finnishness’ and ‘Kaurismäkianness’ I establish, first, the way in which Kaurismäki’s films engage with national themes; and, second, the way in which this Kaurismäkian take on Finnishness is received and further appropriated in Finland. I provide a textual analysis of each of the focus films, paying particular attention to their national aspects and their references to Kaurismäki’s other films. I combine this close analysis of the film texts with discussion of the context of the films, their media presence and ‘afterlife’, for example the discourses surrounding the films after their initial release or the ways in which their ‘Kaurismäkianness’ has been appropriated by others for specifically national purposes.

In seeking to understand how Kaurismäki’s auteurial engagement with narratives of Finnishness feeds back into Finnish society this thesis contributes to current debates about the relationship between auteurs and national identity.

Why my research is important

The research is important as it develops an original approach for analysing the way in which cinematic authors can be implicated in processes of national imagining.


  • Australian Postgraduate Award, UWA top-up scholarship, Alexander Cohen Postgraduate Student Travel Award (Convocation), Postgraduate Students’ Association Student Travel Award, additional travel funding from the School of Humanities and the Graduate Research School.