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  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • gordonl5615 November 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    1944 (2015)

    This Estonian made war film takes place during July to November 1944. It starts with the battle of the Tannenberg Line where German and their Allied forces try to hold back the advancing Soviet Red Army.

    The film follows a small detachment of Estonian troops who are fighting for the Germans. The battle is hard fought and results in massive losses to the Red Army. The Red Forces are however far too great and the Germans and Estonians are forced to retreat towards the coast. The first 45 minutes or so follows this group during the battle and retreat.

    The film then shifts gear and follows another group of Estonians, this time the men are part of the Red Army. There is a brief fight between the two groups that ends once they realize they are all Estonian. The group fighting with the Germans withdraws leaving the field to the Red Army side. Now the film follows the Estonians who are fighting with the Reds as they advance.

    The politics in play here are the same for both sides. In 1940 the U.S.S.R. annexed Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia all at the same time. (The Soviets received a bloody nose when they tried the same move on Finland) The Soviet occupation had been brutal with many killed or shipped off to camps. When the Germans swept through during their 1941 attack on the USSR, they were looked upon as liberators by many.

    When the Germans put out a call for men to join an all Estonian unit to fight several thousand men signed up. (Several thousand more were drafted) Most join to get some payback on the USSR. The men fighting for the Reds were men drafted into the Red Army in 1941, or offered freedom from the camps if they fought for the Red Army. Both sides just wanted the war to end.

    The film is quite well made with excellent attention to weapons, uniforms etc. The battle scenes are all well handled with plenty of pyrotechnics on display.

    The film is a look at a rather unknown (in the west) story of World War Two and is worth the time imo.
  • 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.
  • biont12 May 2015
    This is already a second movie about war that I watch coming from the Baltic countries. First being the Lithuanian "Ekskursante", which I enjoyed very much. And now this one - the Estonian "1944".

    Well, I first thought this is some anti-Russian propaganda because of the recent conflicts. But then I realized this movie actually shows that war is wrong in general. People are caught between two fronts. And non of the sides are right. Both have their dictators and cruelty. So, in this movie, in the example of Estonian people, you can see how people of the same land taken by different parties, are obliged to shoot each other.

    It's a good movie that shows we're all victims when it comes to war. I enjoyed cinematography more or less. I think it's a fine piece of movie for Estonia. I'm not used to expecting anything of high quality from Baltic countries, but it looks that Baltics have evolved to meet high standards of today's cinema.

    So, in a few words, it's a good war movie, with a plot full of drama and combat scenes. Was worth a watch.
  • mugwamp-98315 September 2016
    Within the first 5 minutes of watching this movie I was noticing some very keen attention to detail not seen in typical war movies. The Germanic Estonian uniforms were quite authentic, right down to the camouflage patterns and crests. The weapons, and even the handling of the weapons were true to WW2 doctrine of the time. On the soviet side you have actual T34/85 tanks, and soldiers sporting appropriate tunics and weapons. This authenticity helps with the immersion, otherwise without it, the plot means nothing.

    Its a war movie about a Foreign Volunteer platoon of SS soldiers. This is a point of view seldom seen, after all these guys are fighting on the side of Adolf Hitler. And there exists a vacuum for this subject matter. In-spite of that, there is a story to tell and it should be told.

    The movie takes a moment to humanize the characters. One interlude displayed the soldiers of the Estonian SS Platoon blatantly disrespecting a Nazi party member and joking about Adolf Hitler. Another scene showed the soldiers rescuing a child during an air raid. It tries to explain why good guys are fighting for the wrong side and even minimizes that issue during a friendly conversation between the main character and a Danish SS soldier. And it is true there were Corps of volunteers fighting for the Nazi's from Foreign countries. But it is not necessary to explain this, because at the heart of it this is about soldiers who are on the ropes fighting for survival just before they lost the war. So don't get too attached to the soldiers. Attrition is high.

    I won't give it away, but there is a very clever change of perspective that takes place about halfway through this movie. Nuff said about that. The acting is very good. At times you can tell a limited budget was all they had to make this, and perhaps you have to admire the resourcefulness of the producers and directors to get the most out of what they had.
  • It's hard to make a war movie not crossing hero line - in many war movies one side is good ones and another is opposing front. And ordinary people are left out-of-the plot usually. In the big WWII picture there are two sides - Germans and allies who recruits new soldiers from whatever country. But the problem is - what if country is small and want's to be neutral, but it can't be - because of big external forces ? In such case country is split into two opposing parts. And the smaller the country - the bigger chaos takes place in that picture which is made from the Estonia country perspective in WWII. So in the end - whoever wins in the world war - we lose, as nation of small country, because it's not our business after all. And this plot makes movie highly approachable from the ordinary people eyes, because there are too many war movies with heroes in it, and less with people who just tries to deal with a fact that soldier's duty is just another job which can break your life in an unimaginable way.
  • haimar32 March 2015
    "1944" is a milestone in estonian movie-making. From start to end titles there is hard to find something to complain about. On the contrary: This movie can stand beside the other great movies from this genre with head held high. The characters and how the movie is build up was amazing. The diversity of characters and how they are making impact with a short time is incredible. Very emotional movie with great war scenes.

    The topic is something that I have not come across previously in same genre. This is why I think this movie is not must see just for people living in estonia, but also for international audience.
  • What a brilliant film. Puts the whole concept of war in it's stupid context, a country caught up in a war they don't want, that isn't theirs, and individuals forced into fighting on one side or the other, neither of whom they feel any allegiance to, indeed both of whom they hate for the way they have treated them in the past. Some very touching moments, and the bad guys are not all germans, this film shows how very complex an issue war really is. Best war movie to date
  • Impressive and realistic movie about war on the Eastern Front in Estonia 1944. The Soviets are coming back as the German Army retreated with Estionians forced to fight eachother. For me it is quite understandable that the Soviet victors were suspicious about the loyalty of Estonian soldiers forced in the Red Army. "Red" because they were quite cruel to anybody not loyal to the Soviet Stalinistic system. Therefore the Soviet Army had real officers and "Political" officers (commissars) which ruled everything behind fighting. Because after 1945 Estonia would be occupied by the Soviet system for another 46 years, I am inclined to feel few sympathy for the Red Steamroller. That Estionians were fighting in the Waffen-SS was normal practise in the German Army, where all soldiers of foreign countries were drafted in the Waffen-SS. Waffen-SS divisions mostly got the more difficult tasks and were famous for their will to figjht under extreme difficult circumstances and hold the line were other units would have fled.

    Most professional and very convincing were the grey glimpses of the famous German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen in the background firing 8 inch HE shells on the assaulting Soviet troops when they attacked Saaremaa (Ösel) island from the Sörve (Sorbe) peninsula. These scenes are important high quality features to make the movie more authentic and valuable in my eyes, like the correct material, insigna's, emblems and uniforms. The T34/85's were also correctly depicted smashing German defensive lines and trenches and German soldiers could only reply with Panzerschreck, Panzerfausts and hand grenades. The Soviet sniper did his (ugly) duty when he silenced the German key defenders, like the one with the Panzerschreck.

    That war is inhuman, cruel and horrible and that Estonians tragically were forced to fight eachother is extensively showed in this realistic war movie.
  • To be honest I was expecting a low budget bodged effort with lousy period detail and an awful screenplay. In fact it frankly puts most Hollywood and UK efforts to shame. The uniforms, T 34's are really well done and the combat looks authentic, reminiscent perhaps of Cross of Iron. 1944 highlights the sheer randomness of war both in terms of which side you would be pushed into fighting for and graphically who makes it through..... I feel it emphasises loyalty to the platoon, rather than any ideal and how similar one infantry man is to another. Themes of guilt run through story no doubt echoing Estonia's own history in this period, with no options to offer between the two evils, the men could be conscripted into either side. The film pulls off a difficult task in showing realism, brutality and forgiveness within one of the most unforgiving conflicts in history, whilst avoiding the routine white hats black hats seen in most war movies.
  • Impressive film dealing with one of the lesser known battlegrounds in WW2.

    The Baltic countries, like other Eastern European nations, were caught between the colossal war machines of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. These two nations divided the map in secret through the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, and moved to annex their territorial claims at the onset of the war.

    At that time, a sizeable part of Estonia's population had strong German ties dating back to the Hanseatic era. Upon the outbreak of the Russian invasion, many of these civilians fled to Germany or neutral Sweden. The able men who stayed were conscripted into the Red Army. When the Nazis broke the truce in 1941 and advanced towards the East, those in Soviet service in turn fled before the Germans, whilst the German Estonians who had left the country in 1940 returned to serve their new (and in their eyes, rightful) occupiers.

    The film takes place in 1944, as the Russians return to reclaim the Baltic states on their way to Berlin. Men on both sides of the conflict, once brothers, friends, neighbours, now are forced to fight one another on behalf of foreign forces. There is little glory to this story. Subliminally (and sublimely) it takes a stance against the madness and tragedy of war. Most actions taken by the characters are out of necessity. Nobody is a true protagonist or antagonist. In one scene, the bewilderment and confusion of the civilian population is displayed as well.

    Connecting to the characters is not difficult; the actors do a solid job. Nothing too bombastic. The pace of the film adapts well to the amount of information which is shown and processed in any given scene. The settings, costumes, camera work, and music all mesh together nicely.

    If you wish to view history from a different perspective than Hollywood's, this film is definitely worth your time.
  • This was an exciting war film, accurately and realistically done with excellent production values. It was also a very interesting piece of history, showing a facet of WWII that few people outside of Estonia will be aware of. Many Estonians were forced to fight for the Soviets and for the Nazis, often against each other, with with many fighting first for one side and then the other. The film is in two parts - one from the perspective of the Estonians fighting on the Nazi side, one from the perspective of those on the Soviet side.
  • If you have ever swum in the ocean and been caught between a receding wave and an incoming tide, you'll understand this film. Without giving away the story line, let me just say, just try to imagine the opposing tidal waves of Soviet vs. Nazi power converging on the tiny Baltic states. This film catalogs the war time experiences of but a few representative Estonian young men involved in the action and political intrigue. Intensely emotive, and frightening, with action filled battled sequences,1944 will have you squirming in your seat and reaching for more than one tissue. I am both happy and sad that I watched it.
  • JayPatton8814 November 2019
    Makes me wonder why the US and Brits helped the barbaric Stalin led communist USSR. In the Holidormy caused by Stalin, Stalin is credited with killing up to 20 million people, why is this not brought up in history, when the Germans were accused of 7 million deaths, almost a 3-1 difference in total deaths yet the Germans were Evil?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First of all,i've seen many war movies,both the old and the new.( from lets say "iron cross" to the "fury")And i must say,this has to be one of the best ww2 movies ever.Why?.(NOTE THAT this movie only cost 2 milion euros.) First:It has authentic Word War 2 vibe in it,meaning that everything or most of the scenes created a nice effect of actually seeing documentary of that time. Second:Amazing 2 side view from both sides fighting ( the russians and the Germans) Third: Besides great fighting scenes,a great story and really well showed drama of that time.

    Downsides:I actually couldn't say much,but GF pointed out that there wasn't much of a womans point of view on living on that time.And i have to agree on that.
  • Nothing special really, a no-nonsense patriotic war movie which apparently is supposed to prove that almost all Estonians who fought in WWII (be it for the Reich or the Red Army) were top notch individuals. It would be unthinkable that a movie as simplistic in message as this would be made in any Western European country nowadays but that's what you get when you are not allowed to tell certain stories during the 45 years of Soviet occupation era. Most countries got WWII movies like this out of their cultural system in 1960s-1970s I guess. In fact the director has also said that his main message was to make Estonians proud of their country and nation so maybe it can be excused that the movie never really rises above this level in terms of plot and characters.

    The most impressive thing was the budget: 1.9 million euros. They did get free support in mass scenes from the defense forces but still the movie looks excellent for such limited resources.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The idea to focus on the tragedy of the Estonians in this war is a good possibility to show how war destroys humanity. But focusing can also cause a wrong picture. Focusing on destroyed German cities like Dresden, could portray simply all Germans as innocent victims of the British bombardments.

    A lot of Soviet WW2 war movies have a deficit in not showing that not everybody wanted to fight for their ideas. But they all have one thing in common. The defeat of the Nazis is the core objective that unites Eastern Europe. This movie instead focuses on the reverse perspective as if none Estonian wanted to fight against the Nazis and all who fought were forced to by the Red Army.

    Somehow I get the feeling the writer tries to tell us, it would have been better if the soviets didn't advance back in 1944. A short research about the writer confirmed this thought a bit with his justified antipathy of the soviet system. The interesting question is, could the Nazis have been defeated without the Soviets? And if not, what would Europe and Estonia look like? Would there be more human rights till 1991 or could it have been even worse? Additionally, his often advocating for a stronger Nato in the Baltics to defend it against the Russians completed the picture for me. Sad to see this looks like a promoting for a new cold war.

    For those who watched the movie already: Just imagine, you would cut 2 minutes of this film, where the soldiers didn't want to salute to the Nazi. Without this 2 minutes this whole movie could have been shown by the Nazi propaganda to rise the fighting spirit by showing how cruel the communists were. There is simply no more disapproving of the Nazis than this 2 minutes. I would even go further, that this movie would be close to be banned in a lot of countries without this 2 minutes. Following the arguments of 2 other reviews I think victorious fighting soldiers in Nazi uniforms followed by 90min of soviet cruelties is not an anti-war movie! If the Soviet Union still existed, it would be a call to fight against the soviets! I strongly disagree with any building up of a bogeyman nowadays, 70 years after WW2, no matter if against Germans or Russians! Today's Germans and Russians are not responsible for WW2!
  • Innocent people continue to blame themselves, and guilty people are at ease. Every nation 's memories of war are always different, and Estonia interprets war without solution with helplessness and absurdity. The microscopic tactical scenes are realistic and clear, which is better than ordinary war films. However, the macro perspective is really weird when switching from the German side in the first half to the Red Army in the second half, and then inserting the gentle military and civilian fish and water patterns, the rhythm is a bit bad.The director's skillful technique makes this story fascinating, full of tension, silent emotion and full of silent anger, and the narrative with a relentless accusation.
  • Tweetienator15 April 2020
    If one wants to watch good war movies he should look out for Scandinavian or Eastern Europe productions - war movies from there of course got not the big budget of Hollywood blockbusters but beat them easy - they are far more realistic, got better characters and more interesting stories to tell. 1944 is one of those movies: it tells us the story of Estonian soldiers fighting the Sowjets - and against Estonians fighting on the side of the Red Army. Action scenes and acting are good, the story too. Beats Dunkirk and 1917 and such Hollywood overpraised stuff easy - of course no Brad Pitt or Tom Hardy around who beat single-handed a battalion of enemies. Good.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    One Author wrote the following: "Well, I first thought this is some anti-Russian propaganda because of the recent conflicts. But then I realized this movie actually shows that war is wrong in general"

    Well, I agree with the part that the movie shows that war is bad in general but I cannot understand how someone does not see this film as anti-Russian/Soviet propaganda! I liked the idea of the film when reading the Storyline but I was very disappointed about the simplistic drawn picture of good vs evil.

    Probably the most filmmakers tend to make their home country look good, brave and proud but this movie goes one step too far. At the beginning there is a battle where a team of about 10 Estonians defeat about 100 Soviets with about 10 Tanks. All Soviets are running around like chicken not hiding behind their tanks.

    Later during the film, there are a lot of scenes and stories in which the soviets are shown as the pure evil. There is the soviet-warplane that attacks repeatedly the fleeing civilians instead of attacking the Military Truck. After the last turn its even aiming precisely at one single child in the field – but fortunately the brave Estonian soldier risked his life and saved her. Leaving aside that this is a huge waste of ammunition, I can't imagine the soviets were that evil killing small children on purpose. Than there is the bad Soviet-leader who gives an order to shoot five boys and than shoots the Estonian soldier who refuses to do this.

    It looks like the producers collected and strung together all nightmare stories about the soviets and put it in this movie. In summary, this film tells us that the Soviets bombed cities although having no armed forces inside. They deported simply every Estonian to Siberia and killed the rest while they were fleeing. But the typical Estonian soldier was a smart and brave hero. If history could only be that easy…

    The soviets were definitely not the good ones and do not have to be defended. And here we do not talk about history, but about filmmaking. Most actions were so predictable that we even began to guess right how the single scenes were going to end. Like in these bad horror movies.

    To be fair, I compare it to movies that had a 20 times larger budget. Knowing that, the pictures are very well done. But the script misses the two possible targets. For an good entertaining movie like for example "Saving Private Ryan" it's just too predictable. But for an anti-war movie, it paints a too heroic picture of one side and misses the chance to show that in a war both sides suffer from it.
  • First off, this was a great film in the genre of war. The battle, fighting and conflict were both realistic and brutal. It was produced and directed well and the story-line was controversial, yet ran effortlessly through the film. The only criticism (and this is from a westernocentric view)I can make is that the Estonians that were forced to fight for the Nazis, certainly made criticisms of Hitler as individuals but the crimes of the Germans in Russia from 1941 were not at all referred to or personified by any character in the SS Estonian Volunteer Division. I understand that Estonians and probably Lithuanians and Latvians experienced the same moral conummdrum, as two opposing forces with radically different ideologies opposed one another. Innocence were caught in the clash. Making their choices as best fits any human beings will to survive. Unfortunately, as a failing of myself, but I cheered when the Estonian Nazis got killed in the battle. Maybe it is because I have been brought up on a diet of war films in which Germans in 1939-45 were always portrayed as 'the bad guys'. However, these Etonians had the SS insignia and with that association any sympathy would be in short supply. The SS committed unforgivable atrocities across Russia in 1941 to 44 and the film failed to acknowledge or address that issue. Instead it portrayed as well as it could, the SS soldiers as run of the mill lads, caught up in a war, not of their making. There were no sinister characters amongst them, no fascist enthusiasts or criminals.

    The Estonians in the Red Army were portrayed in the same even handed manner except for the 'Stalinist' Captain, who was portrayed as a brute, heartless and ruthless. A sinister person who tried to coerce soldiers in his command, especially with the blunt tool of fear.

    The film although great in terms of plot, style and genre. The makers lacked the even handedness of the subject. OK, I accept that the heroic Red Army was let down by the obvious monsters within it and were commanded by 'Stalinists' and unreconstructed communists. Yet the SS were just as bad, if not worse. In essence, the director and producer should've reached out for....balance.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is a funny version of Saving Private Ryan (1998).

    Only 5 minutes after the movie starts, I started telling myself: this one will run out of ammo, there will be a scene of a soldier who loses his legs, they will blow up a tank, a sniper will be shown sitting quietly, a tank will blow up that post. All of these scene followed. So it was fun watching about 34 minutes of this toe-to-toe Private Ryan movie.

    Generally it is another military propaganda where you'll watch how group of some 20 skinny soldiers wipe out 4 tanks and 200 soldiers in 5 minutes.

    2/10.
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