Foucault News

News and resources on French thinker Michel Foucault (1926-1984)

Sanna Karkulehto, The ‘Greatest Finn’ meets the ‘Gay Marshal’: Foucault’s cycle, national narratives and The Butterfly of the Urals, Journal of Scandinavian Cinema, vol 1, no.2, June 2011

Further information

Abstract
The article examines the case of the ‘Gay Marshal’, the late C.G.E. Mannerheim, president of Finland, supreme commander of Finnish military forces during World War II, and often voted the ‘Greatest Finn’ in opinion polls. In the puppet-animation film The Butterfly of the Urals (Katariina Lillqvist, 2008) Mannerheim wears a purple corset and enjoys a relationship with his male servant. The film incited a media war. The article shows how the film’s reception involves Foucault’s cycle, a concept adapted from Michel Foucault’s The History of Sexuality (1984 [1976]): sexuality fascinates and attracts large audiences, but its visibility is viable only under certain conditions, rules and restrictions. Focusing on sexuality also turns out to be a means of closeting the painful, wilfully forgotten Civil War (1918) history, which has divided Finland and remained a problematic topic in Finland’s national narratives.

Keywords
Michel Foucault,nationality,queer,sexuality,media reception,Mannerheim,Finland,animation,

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