Steam of Life (2010) - full transcript

Finnish men in sauna, speaking straight from the heart.

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---
Let me do your legs.

There we go.

Here...

For almost 51 years
I've washed this back.

That's good.

Do you want to stay behind,
I'm going?

Steam of Life

One thing I've noticed, boys,
about love -

and what women like,
that's massage.

Neck, shoulders, legs
and buttocks, every day.

That's our love story right there.



If I skip one part and
try and sneak off, -

she will say:
"You missed the legs."

Or if I think she's asleep, no:
"You missed the legs."

Women are very particular
about the spots they want massaged.

I think they call them G-spots,
or what do they call them.

That's him.
- Well, then.

They all look alike.
- Them babies.

He's smiling.
- Right.

So adorable.
- Looks like his father.

He's so small and weak, it's great
to care for someone so small -

and see him growing every day.
- That's right.

I'll always remember the moment
they lifted him to his mother's arms -

and I cut the umbilical cord...

And I saw the baby,
his little hands and feet...



They're home now
and I was on a paternal leave -

helping to
take care of the baby.

Now one dream has come true -

and maybe God will give us
a little princess later.

That's right.

It's nice to go to sauna...
- Damn, are you going to sauna?

You were supposed to eat first!

Come on now!
- I won't throw this to the stoves.

Fucking hell, you go to sauna...
- What's the soup you made?

Cabbage soup!

Really insane stories,
the things I've told you -

things you can experience
in your childhood.

Things like hidden family violence...

When you have a stepfather
and you feel like you're in the way...

I first realized this
when I started school.

We were at the cottage,
he took me to this big rock -

where the kids always play...

He told me that I'm not Kuosmanen,
I'm Putkonen.

I was seven then,
I didn't quite get it.

I thought of him as my father.

If you think of it,
nowadays it would be unheard of...

When I got home from school,
I tried to avoid him -

and tried to look and see
if the despot is home.

You grow numb with it,
always being beaten, hit or strangled.

The most insane thing was
to be pushed down to the floor -

and a pillow was held over my face.

And the hypocrisy,
what was shown to others...

All was well
in the artist family.

And the way it stopped for me...

I was drunk for the first time -

and came home,
we had this French balcony...

I grabbed the guy,
he was a head shorter -

and I was sporty
and well-built...

I had the upper hand,
I might have dropped him from there.

He was screaming for mercy
"Don't kill me! Help!".

And that was the end of it.

There's one more round here.

In '89, I had everything
I had always wanted.

I had a daughter,
I had a good job -

but the child had no mother.

I was a construction worker,
and my mother cared for my daughter.

She started staying over there,
I visited them often.

Then this person told me I can't come,
because the girl always cries after that.

Was your mother alone
or with someone?

My mother is married.

They adopted my daughter.

My daughter is also
my stepsister.

That's why I'm up here in the North.
I just get so sad there.

I didn't get info about her schooling
or anything, really, -

I had to threaten with lawyers.

We tried to negotiate,
but they accused and pressured me.

I lost it totally then.
I've always been a crackerjack.

I told them to draw up the papers,
I will sign them, whatever you want.

That's...

That's how we dealt with it.

Fuck, it still hurts.

More steam.

If only I could tell my daughter,
but I can't.

It's good that I can tell you.

Is it cold?
- Not warm yet.

The sun doesn't warm much.
Should have a black tub there.

You want a beer?
- Sure.

It would be nice
if she came for a visit.

We could cry together.
I'm always crying alone.

Would be good for her to know...
- Yes, to know the reasons behind it.

In 1 983, my life
got totally out of hand.

I lost my grasp of things.

I drank and got into crime.

In the summer of '84,
I committed a robbery -

and got one year for it.

I drank and drank,
that was my life.

I went into prison that summer, -

and that started a spiral
that lasted until '93.

Once I was crossing the street, -

I was high on drugs,
drunk or something, -

and I realized this is a part
of the plan that destroys me.

Then I got an 18-month sentence...

I lived alone in my cell,
they do in Sweden.

In the corner, there was
a piece of metal sheet -

that served as a mirror there.

I remember looking into it -

and thinking that I'll kill myself
to end all this shit.

I had this lady friend
who visited me from Stockholm.

She came to the prison
in March and asked:

"Pertti, what happened to your eyes,
they're the eyes of a dead fish."

One prisoner tried to escape -

by splitting his gums
with a razor blade.

I had taken amphetamine one night
and just decided to escape.

I started working out,
so I broke into sweat -

and then called the guard:
"I've got stomach cramps."

I took a razor blade
and made wounds into my mouth -

and let the blood run into a cup -

and spread it all over the place
and lay down on the floor.

That's how they found me,
unconscious.

They hooked me up to an IV,
I started running towards the door.

The guards caught me,
called the police and handcuffed me.

The warden put me into solitary,
I was a danger to others.

In the solitary, I was permitted
to sit outside on my lunch hour.

It was a beautiful day,
I sat against a trash can.

I wore shorts, had a cup of coffee
and the sky was blue.

All of a sudden, I saw
a blue butterfly in the sky.

I thought it was beautiful,
hoped it would sit on my mug.

The mug was blue
and had painted grass and flowers.

It was like summer.

So the butterfly landed
on my mug.

I hoped it would open its wings,
and so it did.

And at that moment,
something happened.

Instantly,
my broken view of the world -

was totally cleared.

At the end of February 1991,
I got out of prison in Sweden.

When I walked into the log temple, -

I had this insight that the woman
who sits next to me will be my wife.

And so this Anu Katja Johanna
sat next to me during the introduction.

I fell in love with her woolly socks.

She curled her toes
inside the red-and-white striped socks.

I looked at her and
my heart went all weak.

Once I came back from a run
and near the course center I thought -

that if Anu is at the front door,
I will tell her this.

I went there,
and she opened the door!

I told her:
"We will be married."

When I was young,
I told my mother:

"I want a wife from Kainuu,
she is a brown-eyed nurse."

And my wife has brown eyes
and is a nurse.

When Anu took the pregnancy test
and then she called the lab -

and she heard
that the hormone levels were up -

it was just such miracle!
That I would be a father!

After such a life!

This kind of basic life,
organized society -

this is the best I know.

I've always had
empty pockets.

Now I have my family
and empty pockets.

I got married during the war -

and had two children
when I was on leave.

But then my wife got sick.

When she was still alive,
if I was away for a few hours -

I always worried
if I would find her dead or alive.

I couldn't always get
the boys to watch her.

My eldest son was there
a few times and asked me:

"How can you cope with this life
for so many years, Dad?"

But I just had to carry on, -

and you get the strength for it
as you go along.

It went on for five years
before she finally died.

Then I was alone.

I sat home alone
on my bed -

and cooked whenever I wanted,
what little I wanted alone...

Suddenly I had this hunger
for other people.

I said myself that something
has to change in my life.

My son came to visit and said:
"Listen, Dad."

"We have to do something,
you have to get out and about" -

"or else you will go crazy."

After my son told me that,
I got my act together -

and went to
the Veterans' Christmas Party.

I found a nice-looking person there, -

I thought she would be nice company
if only I would dare to ask.

I finally approached her -

and asked if I could one day
come for a cup of coffee.

She said yes, and soon enough
I went there with a bunch of flowers.

That's how it started
and it still goes on -

hopefully for a long time.

We've had great companionship
and a good life.

She's a good person
and can cook -

and tells me how to do laundry
and helps me in everything.

I'm living the best years of my life.

Well, her neighbors
must have been wondering -

when they saw another pair of
underpants on the washing line -

as she doesn't
have a husband.

How long have you been together?
- For 18 years now.

Both getting older at the same time.
- Older and senile.

The police brought him here
one night in the spring.

They called and asked if there's room
for one more orphan.

I said there's always room
for one more.

That's how our friendship started.

We went berry picking
and fishing with him.

At first, we should have picked
the berries for him.

At one point,
there was a bush full of blueberries -

so I took some branches
and told him to sit down -

so that I could teach him
how to pick blueberries.

When we had caught fish -

we had to negotiate
how to share the catch.

He was going to take all fish.
I wouldn't let him.

"I will take these
and you will take those."

Breaking things is important to him.

If you give him a car tire,
he will tear it apart in a second.

One Saturday,
we went to the sauna.

He stayed to eat
out in the barn.

We sat in the sauna for a while...

The doors started banging -

and he barged in
from underneath the door -

and came to the benches.

I told him I will throw some water
on the stove to get some steam.

As soon as the steam hissed
he barged out underneath the door.

I told him: "No, no don't go yet,
you haven't broken into sweat yet."

But no, he went outside,
banging the doors.

Right, Juuso.

You were only a boy
when we had our sauna.

A very little boy...

Left without washing, did you?

Yes, that's right.

The bear has become
a real friend to me.

It's an intelligent animal,
learns very fast.

And it is a true,
loyal friend indeed.

Right, another one gone.
This is the name of the game.

Juuso! It's broken now!

I keep going back
to early spring...

We still had snow.

There was a spring happening
for children on the lake ice.

I was playing
with my daughter, -

sledding down the hill,
eating grilled sausages.

She went on a pony ride.
Think what an experience for a child!

Every time I went to get her,
she ran to me with her arms open:

"Daddy, I want to go home with you!
I miss you so much."

I have two cats, she says:
"To see Mikku and Okku at home!"

It's so wrong.
- Well, it tears you apart.

Think about it: You don't see your
child for example for 1 3 years!

How long has it been now?

Well, how long has it been...

I had just received
the Appellate Court order -

with all the visiting rights.

Not as extensive
as I had wanted..

As soon as
the court process was over -

and the decision was,
like 9 times out of 10 -

that the custody was taken
from the father.

Every other weekend
and one weekday, that's it.

Nothing else mattered.

As soon as the process was over,
the mother refused to give the child.

We were visiting grandma
for the last time with the girl, -

we played together -

when my ex just announced that
she won't allow visitations anymore.

This is now September,
I haven't seen or heard of her.

I don't even know
if they live here any more.

The authorities can't do anything
without court orders.

I should go to court and get an order
forcing her to let me see the child.

And of course,
family and friends miss her also.

Her godfather, grandmother
and everyone else.

They keep asking about her
and crying...

Her grandmother is getting old, -

she cried
if she will ever see Inka again.

I told her I don't know the answer.

I don't mind suffering,
but my girl is so young...

She's not yet three, -

she doesn't have
long-term memory yet.

I think my daughter doesn't remember
who her father is any more.

That really hurts.

If only I could hold her.

If she would run towards me
and jump into my arms.

"Let's go home
and see Okku and Mikka."

I remember my grandpa,
when I was a little boy.

I used to walk to their place
and he'd be chopping wood.

Grandma was inside,
cooking, doing chores.

When grandma was in a bad mood,
grandpa would stop us -

and ask us:
"Is it still stormy in the South?"

He meant:
"Is your grandmother still angry?"

I asked grandpa how old
the oldest logs were in the shed.

He thought about it
and then said: "1 1 years."

Time passed.
Grandpa chopped wood -

and grandma was either
in a good or a bad mood.

Then grandpa got dementia
and had to go to a nursing home.

When we visited him,
we told him everyday news -

but he wasn't interested.

When we spent quiet time with him,
he would then ask -

where the end of the wood pile was, -

had it reached
the wall on the river side?

After four years grandpa found out
that his woodpile was running low.

He cried and apologized -

for not having chopped enough wood.

Afterwards, when I've thought about it, -

I realized -

that he wanted to chop enough wood -

to last until the end of grandmother's life.

That's when I realized -

how manifold love can be.

Pete, the oars are squeaking.

I do love boats.
- That's right.

When the Frog went a-courting
Aha, Aha...

There's only one aha.

But where is he going?
- I'm going to Bulgaria.

What else will we take?

Sunscreen.
- Sunscreen, we have to take it.

If I forget it, what will we do?
I burn easily.

Then we put yogurt
on your back.

What other clothes shall we take?

The bikini.
- What bikini?

You know.

The plane flies high up.
- In the sky.

Where's the sky?

It's getting cloudy.

What?
- Getting cloudy.

You should be honest with others.

Have you been the best friend?

I have been for a long time,
already as a child.

So have I.
- I've been honest to everyone.

I've never stolen anything.
You have to ask always.

You have to be honest.

My best friend.
I'm the best friend.

All's well and in balance.
- All's in order.

Interesting, this is somehow mild.
- Yes, mild.

It has a lot of soul.
Touch of leather.

Light as the touch
of a summer fairy.

The touch of a summer virgin.

Right after swimming in the sea.

I've been to all army saunas
there possibly are -

from a battalion sauna
to a one-man tent sauna, -

and in Afghanistan,
in a Swedish sauna -

which differs from a Stockholm sauna
in that the newspaper is 2 weeks late.

How have you recovered
from getting back from the tour?

I had to work a few weeks -

to get myself back
into the regiment books.

I tried to adapt to being back home.

Some bad things happened
to me during that year away.

My mother died
and my relationship fell apart.

And you can't really
process those things out there, -

you have to concentrate
on the task at hand.

And you know,
I work out a lot.

I poured all that anxiety
and bad feelings into workouts.

What was it like when the Chaplain
brought the message?

If I remember correctly, -

my then girlfriend just called me
on my mobile -

and told me to sit down,
she had bad news.

Well, that was that.

The Chief-of-Staff and the Chaplain
met me on the club house...

The Chief immediately
started arranging -

for me to be on the next flight home -

so that I can go bury my mother.

Me and Jari Rankinen went to the chapel
to have a...

Take a moment.
- Yes.

We lit a candle
and read a passage from the Bible.

I could have hardened myself,
as I did before -

and claim that I didn't feel anything.

But now that I actually felt something,
it was easier to bear it.

In a military organization,
showing softness and weakness -

is not necessarily a strength.
You can be soft and weak in private.

You can't show it there.
- No, you can't.

And Finnish men
have traditionally been very tough.

I haven't regretted joining the army.
It has saved me.

I can't say a bad word.

The man and the job
belong together, in this case.

Will your son continue
in your footsteps?

Well... I'm happy to say he listens
to Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.

Last week he cut his long hair,
so no more moshing.

But the signs are good.
- Yes.

His own words, said with a smile:
"Join the army? Seriously!"

He has been
watching me and Jari -

and thought
how ridiculous it is.

But we do it with a big heart.

Whatever my son decides,
if he does it from his heart...

If he decides that he won't
do the military service -

and it comes from his heart,
I will totally stand by him.

Happy Independence Day.

When they ask children
to sing to Santa, -

then you feel like saying:
"Let's just get to the presents."

Today there was one family
where nobody wanted to sing.

Then I wanted to hand out the presents,
but no, the lady didn't want that.

But you don't want to leave
after five minutes either.

You don't earn your money.
- All the homes had kids in there.

Have you noticed
that when Santa comes in, -

they offer you the best chair
or a place on the sofa.

But I have one family,
I won't mention names -

where Santa gets a servant's chair,
and it's halfway in the doorway.

A bit like taking some distance.

They're so far away
I feel like shouting or taking a mic.

Today I had a place
where they left me on the doorstep!

They cleared some space there,
but it really annoyed me -

I couldn't even get in,
had to shout from the door.

And usually Santa
is the guest of honor.

You know the Suzuki four-wheel drive?
- Yes, I know.

How many people does it seat?

Well, it takes in...

About a dozen people.

Well, we were 21 in there.
Driving in there.

Who drove it? How come?
- The owner.

It must have been a tight squeeze.
- You bet.

The only ones
that are still alive -

are me
and the owner of the car...

All the others
have kicked the bucket.

Like my wife last summer.

They first knocked on the door
before six a.m.

Then they rang the doorbell.
I said: "Leena, where are you?"

"Who's at the door now?"
But there was nobody there.

When I opened the door,
it was two policemen.

They asked if I was so and so,
I said yes. They had a message.

They said it was about my wife,
or that do you know so and so...

I said yes, she's my wife.

They said:
"These are her rings and belongings."

"Our divers have just found her,
she drowned in the sea."

She's in Hietaniemi,
at the cemetery.

She had a good funeral.

I have to take it one day at a time.

She was everything to me.

I want to break a sweat.

OK, go ahead.

Are you going to barbecue me?
- That's what I planned.

So where to now?

Downtown?

I've been on the Esplanade,
50 cents for a flat.

Oh yes.
It has all the modern conveniences.

No, I have a sleeping bag.
- I see.

But how do you fit in there?
- Into the toilet?

It's not that big.
- The big one.

I see, the big one.
- It costs 50 cents per night.

Per day. So you recommend?

Indoor plumbing and everything.

So you decided to come here?
- It was in the early 90's.

Matti asked me
to come and pan for gold.

I had no ties in the South,
so I stayed here.

I had nothing
to go back to there.

Bit like me, the same thing.
- Yes, that's right.

A bit similar, yes.

And it's good up here.

It's about two years ago
when I met my present wife.

And it's been going well.
- My age protects me from that.

Yes, your age helps,
protects you from women.

Well, not too much.
- I see.

They come and hug me.

One time at a work trip,
something bad happened.

They didn't warn us
about men working on the tracks.

We were taking a plaster train
to ?k?slompolo.

To the cement factory.
- I see.

There was this guy,
standing on a small bridge.

He was waving a red flag!

I acknowledged it
and braked as hard as I could.

He started running
in front of the train.

Splash, splash.

He didn't get out in time?
- No. He tried to save his friend.

I see.

I still have nightmares about it.

It was only about 10 cars away.
The boys were under the cars.

But their death was...
- Instantaneous.

No suffering,
not lying in the hospital for long.

Later, I met one's sister
and the other one's wife...

Shouldn't have said
anything about this.

Sometimes it's good to talk.

I don't know if you noticed, -

but for years, it was hard to see
other families with twins.

Yes, I noticed,
we didn't have much contact then.

Understandable, in a way.

You can't wish this
on anyone else.

That one of the twins
is dead.

When I saw other twin families,
I became so jealous.

And I couldn't accept my own feelings.
That was very hard.

And even today, I don't want
to look at baby twins in prams.

But it has changed with time.

It's a bit corny,
two years and two months...

I'm not a superstitious person -

but I keep thinking
that Iida was a twin, -

and we got our second child
on our second try -

as there was a miscarriage first...

And then the second child dies
when she's 2 years and 2 months.

Feels like the figure 2
is all used up in our family.

I had just commented
the previous night -

that we are given
as much as we can take.

And boy did we get some.

That was a normal Thursday, -

I had a coffee meeting
for entrepreneurs in the morning.

I left, Minna and the kids woke up,
it was summer holiday.

The meeting took a few hours.

I went out to my car -

and listened to my messages.

I was a bit surprised -

at how many messages I had.

It was the third message...

A woman's voice said:

"It's the answering service."

"Shall we leave a message?"

Another woman says: "Yes."

A woman is crying in the background.

The message said then:

"Please call the health center."

My first thought was:

"Now it's happening."

A strange relief...

I don't have to be afraid any more.

I called the number.

I told who I am, -

and they put the call through.

And Minna answered.

Then I knew Minna is OK.

I asked which one or all of them.

Minna said it was Iida.

She told me what happened.

I started the car,
my hands were shaking.

I thought I'll never get there.

During that drive,
I only had three thoughts.

That she's there, happy and smiling, -

thinking how she scared us.

The second one was -

that she was a vegetable.

I realized that if you don't breathe, -

the brain damage is immediate.

And the third one was: she's dead.

The mood went from happy to sad.

And then I just screamed.

I got to the health care center.

Minna is walking towards me.

She says that Iida is dead.

There was bench -

and we sat down and cried.

Minna asked if I wanted to see Iida.

Afterwards I realized -

I didn't want it at that moment.

When we go inside and get to Iida...

It's strange, a dead child...

Does not look like herself at all.

I felt like...

That when the soul has left -

the body looks different.

She didn't look like Iida.

Then they told us after a while
that we should go home -

and the child should be taken
to the morgue.

We walked her there.

There were piles of laundry
along the corridors.

There was a little lounge
and we left Iida there.

I couldn't bear watching it.

That they will put the child
into a dark, cold room.

An unbearable thought.

We went to see Iida a few times
at the health center morgue -

before she was taken
to Tampere for autopsy.

I could never go in there, -

I had to ask the staff
to take Iida out.

The thought of darkness and cold
was just unbearable.

She always liked warmth.

I always thought that life is ruled
with rationale and theories -

and intellect and head.
I've been a real robot, machine head.

Then you lose your child,
and there is no reason, -

it's all pure emotion.
How can you deal with that rationally?

Very contradictory emotions, -

like when Minna, Roosa and Essi
were there and Iida died.

That raises
mixed emotions.

I was angry at myself
for not being there, -

a man should protect his family.

I let down my family.

On the other hand, I was jealous
to Minna for being there.

I've talked to other fathers
whose children have died -

about what we have learned
as children about coping with this.

What are the options for boys?

Being silent and drinking.
"Boys don't cry."

When you think of the situation,
it's no wonder -

that you don't know how to act
when you're next to your dead child.

You try to look for a norm
that isn't there.

Later, you realize...

I was just looking for a way to act,
a way to continue my life.

I had this surreal thought
that if I'm ever in this situation again -

I would want to scream.
Just scream everything out.

When I was younger, I thought
you should manage everything alone.

I don't need help,
I don't need sympathy.

I'm fed up with it,
I don't want to be alone.

I want to share things.

Only now I understood that
solitude is the worst thing.

Only knowing you are not alone
is an incredible relief.

Sweetly the squirrel baby
Sleeps on her mossy bed

Never reached by hounds
Nor snared by hunters

Safe in her nest

From her cocoon high up
She looks upon the world

After seeing so many fights
The peace flag of her home tree

Is flying over her head

Oh to live happily
In the swinging cradle up so high

Squirrel nesting forever
In the gentle arms of the tree

Hear the song of the woods

That's where the furry cutie
Is sleeping on her window

Birds on the skies
Are singing lullabies

Taking her to
The sweet land of dreams

This film is dedicated to Finnish men

English Subtitles:
Tiina Kinnunen / Media Context