Synopsis

In "1944" Director Elmo Nüganen portrays the real events on the Eastern Front in Estonia in 1944, from the Battle Of Tannenburg Line, the July fighting on the Sinimäed Hills, until November, when the Sorve peninsula was already conquered by the Soviet Army. The war is shown through the eyes of participants in the events on both warring sides - the Estonians who fought on the side of the German Army in the 20th Estonian division Waffen-SS, and as part of the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps of the Soviet Army. For residents of Estonia it was a war in which everyone makes their own choices. It is with such hard choices facing the main characters of the film - the soldiers of the opposing sides Carl Tammik and Urey Jogi - as well as their comrades, relatives, friends and even strangers.

Director

Elmo Nüganen

Cast

Kristjan Üksküla
as Jüri Jõgi
Kaspar Velberg
as Karl Tammik
Märt Pius
as Vennad Käärid
Priit Pius
as Vennad Käärid
Priit Strandberg
as Lembit Raadik
Henrik Kalmet
as Voldemar Piir

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by BeneCumb 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.

Reviewed by moshtheboss 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.

Reviewed by s3276169 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.

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