This film is part of Free

Finland Today: Pests of 1938: The Human Heart

Finnish modernity, the threat of the White-Fringed beetle and a gripping item on heart disease make for a riveting film, filled with drama but told with optimism.

Anthology 1938 18 mins


Progress is the theme but it is the thrill of disaster which gives bite to this three-episode issue. Swarms of insects threaten Biblical calamity; a patient listens in horror to the sickly gurgling of his irregular heartbeat: March of Time rarely achieved its effects through understatement. Yet the film depicts the benefits of modernity with equal delight: from electrocardiograms and hydroelectric power to the stylish products of Finnish design, the future looks bright.

‘One of the most frightening things you’ve ever heard’, said March of Time producer Tom Orchard of the irregular heartbeat on the soundtrack of the final episode of this issue. Recorded by soundman Yancy Bradshaw (who attached a microphone to a stethoscope to achieve the effect) the technique was apparently difficult to achieve in 1937 and adds considerably to the effect of the sequence. In the Finland episode, which marks the 20th anniversary of the country’s independence, Britain is mentioned as one of the premier export markets for Finnish paper, as well as being a keen buyer of the country’s stylish textiles and ceramics: a rather haughty looking woman is seen examining a bowl, to illustrate the point.