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Remarkable Women – Out of the Shadows:

Remarkable Women behind

Elias Lönnrot

Original Title: Ida ja Eva

Length: 58 min

Genre: Documentary Film as part of the Hybrid Documentary Anthology Series

Writer-Director: Mervi Enqvist

Producers: Essi Haukkamaa

Executive Producers: Merja Ritola, Jane Applegate

Production Company: Greenlit Productions (FI)

More about Remarkable Women – Out of the Shadows





The main work of Elias Lönnrot (1802-1884) was not Kalevala, as we all have learned at the school, but a Finnish language. Without Lönnrot we most probably now spoke Swedish or Russian in Finland and the rare and special Finnish language would have gotten lost before the end of the century. Eva Törngren (1782-1849), was one of the main influencers behind the national movement in Finland in the early 1800s and she financed Elias Lönnrot’s journeys to collect national poems which ended up forming the Kalevala.

As Lönnrot was writing Kalevala he was also collecting all the known Finnish words (just about 8000) and ended up making 200 000 words more to finalize his Swedish Finnish dictionary just before he died in 1884. His daughter Ida Lönnrot (1855-1915) helped him to finish his life’s work.

Director Mervi Enqvist has a personal relationship with the story. Ida Lönnrot who left Finland after her father died, is her great-great-great aunt and Elias is her uncle. In the film, Mervi searches for Ida’s reason to leave Finland and never return. Ida travelled alone as a young woman

in the late 1800s. Mervi follows in her footsteps to Siena, Italy.

Both Elias and Ida did not want any publicity. Ida didn’t want to be remembered. She demanded all her letters to be burned after her death. Elias did not want anybody to know him being sick or dying before the funeral was held in a small gathering. One of the main questions in the film and the philosophical dilemma is; whose stories we are allowed to tell?

The documentary series is supported by the Creative Europe MEDIA Programme.

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