1944 (2015)

Kaspar Velberg, Kristjan Üksküla, Maiken Schmidt, Gert Raudsep,
1944 is a movie starring Kaspar Velberg, Kristjan üksküla, and Maiken Pius. In 1944 Estonia, a fratricide war ensues when Estonians of the retreating German forces fight against Estonians conscripted into the advancing Soviet Red...
  • 7.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Leo Kunnas, Writer:
  • Elmo Nüganen, Director:
  • Ilkka Matila, Kristian Taska, Producer:

Trailer:

8 / 10

A versatile anti-war film - with war in the foreground

Roughly speaking, there are 2 sorts of war films - those focusing on a big battle/offensive, and those where a war is a background excuse/reason to substantiate the actions of the characters. The Estonian 1944 has nicely managed to combine both of them in the 1.5-hour-film, without a single protagonist, but still with many personages and events. The script is smooth and motivated (based on several diaries), the venues and dates are real - at least for most of Estonians; foreigners might need additional information as even cardinal points for locations may be confusing. The cast is evenly strong, but again - almost all performers are well known in Estonia, also those in smaller roles, and local viewers would have joy of recognition, but there is no actor with fame beyond Estonia. So, the budget of below EUR 2 million was followed...

All in all, a painful yet realistic story, a fine creation to think back / find out how the things were in this part of the world in 1944, even when the concepts and approaches are clearly visible. A balanced story without political correctness or "decent" views on history.

9 / 10

One of the most impressive WW2 movies from this decade.

A WW2 movie coming from Estonia. A part in that war many westerners forget about and even more so those not 'into' world war history.

Originally Estonia declared neutrality in the war but was occupied by the Soviet Union in 1940. Mass political arrests,deportations, and executions followed. Many Estonians were force into the Red army. During the German Operation Barbarossa in 1941 Estonia was occupied by Germany. As a result many Estonians were conscripted to the Nazi German forces and also many became SS Volunteers, recognizable by the 'Blue, Black & White' Estonian flag on the sleeve of their SS uniform and Divisional insignia on their collars.

This movie focuses on fighting in the year 1944. The Red Army advanced back into Estonia. Estonians are fighting on both sides, inevitably opposing each other. Without revealing too much about the plot, we all know how WW2 ended. Estonia was occupied by the Soviets and became part of the USSR until August 20, 1991.

As an anti-war movie this movie succeeds in a marvelous way. It's insane how another man's war can bring such confusion and destruction to a small country like Estonia. Death can come any moment, but so can luck. No main character in the movie can be considered all good or all bad in that childish Disney kind of way.

The pace of the movie is solid and speeds up where it is needed and takes time to dive deeper into the developing storyline(s) and characters of the movie. For those interested in larger battle scenes, the Battle of Tannenberg Line is impressive!

For those that are fed up by American or Russian made movies about world war 2 making their side look like holier-than-thou victorious heroes, here's a real bleak and more realistic view on the war without that tedious black&white lens the big ColdWar contenders tend to put over it.

10 / 10

Extraordinarily sad.....

1944 is an extraordinarily sad film. It looks at the reality of war but in this context, its awfulness is made worse by the fact the Soviet and Nazi presence in Estonia, renders the populace proxy pawns. They are compelled to fight in a conflict that, in essence, was not their's to start with. Nor moreover, did the outcome benefit the Estonians, who were eventually absorbed into the Soviet Union, against their will.

Soldiers on both sides kill their fellow countrymen on behalf of the Nazi's or the Soviets. Some fight for both, as soldiers defect as the Germans start to loose the war. All the while the soldiers not only see their countrymen die, but also their own civilian populace, men, women and children killed or deported to Siberia. The latter initiated by the Soviets to suppress opposition to their occupation of Estonia.

As this film shows those involved are conflicted, feeling guilt at killing their own people, even though, in most respects, they have little choice. Its the unbearable and irreconcilable psychological impact on Estonians on both sides of the political divide, that makes this film so unique and memorable.

The war scenes spare no one either. They are frank, at times brutal and unapologetic. Showing the impact on civilians as well as the soldiers.

This is a remarkable film that is not for everyone but I think everyone should watch. 10/10.

9 / 10

When your survival comes down to two equally bad choices

Solid anti-war film told from the perspective of the Estonians who fought for the Germans and the Russians, blends the violence of battles with the emotional conflicts when your country is a pawn between two much more powerful neighbors. This film stands with some of the better war films ever produced but has it's own voice. I liked how the film switched sides half way through and told how, in these circumstances, the only "winners" are the survivors.

I would like to address other reviewers comments that this film is anti- Russian/Soviet propaganda. Outside of the Soviet political officer (who seem to be an Estonia communist rather that a Russian) and the mention that the Russians, after they invaded, sent large quality of Estonians to the gulags (a true fact), this seems to be the only negative reference to the Russians. And is it propaganda when the the actual plan of the Soviets was to conquer and turn Estonia into a Russian client state?.Are the reviewers actual trying to convince us that somehow the Stalinites were better than the Hitlerites? Or the somehow the Russians weren't equally as bad as the Germans? Estonians, at the time, forced into service against their will and having to choice between to bad two options did what they had to do to survive. And if they had to choose, would have with the attitude that the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

8 / 10

A truly Great War Movie from an Estonian Perspective.

Set during the Battle of Tannenburg in 1944 this is the story of several Estonian men who fought for either Stalin or Hitler. The story is both simple and moving and it really does not pull its punches.

The action is as good as any you will see and the materiel all seemed to be spot on as well as the uniforms. The Russian T34 tanks looked very real and even though there is some CGI here it makes no difference to the overall quality of the film.

There is a love interest too but that is both incidental and also a large part in that the affections in war time can often be magnified due to the constant proximity of death and injury. The acting is just perfect and the direction seemingly effortless in how well it was done. There is very little to find fault with here. In Estonian, Russian and German with good sub titles.

This is a film for those who appreciate a quality production and it may also shine a light on a part of that war that many of us know very little about, completely recommended.