Time is not always an ally, as Finnish filmmaker Panu Johansson details in his compelling film essay that seeks out the remains of the commercial culture along the former Finnish National Road 1. This road is Finland’s equivalent of Route 66 in the United States – a once celebrated passageway that was reduced to near-obsolescence when traffic was diverted to larger modern highways. As a result, the various attractions along the road lost their customers and were shut down.
Johansson’s camera finds an eerily depopulated world along this barely-traveled road. Once-thriving stores, motor lodges and roadside restaurants have decayed into various stages of dilapidation, surrounded by weeds and garbage. A raceway is abandoned, with piles of tires lying in wait for racing cars that will never return. Campsites are absent of activity, and the water within a lake rests in death-like calmness.
Johansson presents his unsettling image of lifeless roadside ruins and an empty wilderness against a throbbing techno music beat, creating a jolting counterbalance between the rhythm of musical motion and the wreck of a man-abandoned environment.