Filmgrenser: Born American

Filmgrenser: Born American

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Three young Americans are exploring Finland and they decide to cross the border to the Soviet Union. Somewhat obviously they get into a lot of trouble and pay a high price for their breaching of the border.

Born American is the first film by the now-famous Finnish director Renny Harlin. This film is unique in itself, since there are not many Finnish films in English marketed towards an American audience. In addition, it was then the most expensive film ever made in Finland. It was also advertised as the first Finnish feature length action movie and it had related merchandise (a book, hats and shirts and a LP) for the first time in Finland.

Born American is a product of Cold War polemics. It could only have been made during the late 1980s. It may seem like an average B-class action movie, but it also has a political touch to it. The film is intentionally over-the-top critical to the USSR. It shows how Finns used to view their Soviet neighbors and also what a Finnish director thinks would appeal to American audiences.

At first the Finnish Board of Film Classification banned the movie, because of excessive violence and anti-Soviet elements. The Finnish government invoked a seldom-used law to ban the film on the grounds that it might harm relations between Finland and another nation. After several cuts and resubmissions, the ban on Born American was dropped on appeal and it was finally accepted for distribution in October 1986. The success of the film in the United States allowed Renny Harlin to get his foot in the door in Hollywood. It was not until 2008 when it was revealed that the request to ban the movie originated from the Soviet Union's Finnish ambassador.

Mari Ristolainen

Univ. of Eastern Finland

BORN AMERICAN (USA/Finland 1986), 97 min. Directed by Renny Harlin. With Mike Norris, Steve Durham, David Coburn.

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