1944 (Blu-ray) – Movie Review
Follow Genre: Drama, War
Director: Elmo Nüganen
Distributor: Just Entertainment
Duration: 100 minutes

1944 (Blu-ray) – Movie Review

Site Score
7.5
Good: Interesting presentation of two characters, Concept
Bad: A bit unclear at the beginning, Odd flow
User Score
8.5
(4 votes)
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Rating: 8.5/10 (4 votes cast)

While there are countless movies that revolve around the second World War, these are often big flicks made by Hollywood either portraying a lot of action scenes, the heroic behavior of several characters or even a sobby love story. Undeniably there are many good movies that handle the topic and of course there are those that present you with more than what we just mentioned. A quite original Estonian movie has just been released on Blu-ray, namely 1944 that shows us the life of two Estonian soldiers each fighting from the other side of the fence.

1944

This movie is divided into two portions and each portion follows a different soldier who fights for a different banner, namely Germany or Russia. At the beginning of the movie you’ll get acquainted with Karl Tammik (Kaspar Velberg) who fights for Germany and tries to keep the Red Army at bay from crossing over to Estonia, or at least does an attempt to do so. It’s unclear as to why precisely he chose to fight for the German fascists, but it certainly has to do with the fact that parts of his family have been deported to Russia, against their will. You’ll see how this man crawls through the trenches and is still quite conflicted on how to handle things, but he is doing his best to keep his friends and fellow soldiers safe. Overall there is not that much story value to be found, except for the raw emotions and the brutal crude picture that is being painted.

After a rather unexpected switch from one character to another, you’ll get to follow Jüri Jõgi (Kristjan Üksüla) who is also an Estonian soldier but fights for the Red Army. His village was overtaken by the Russians and a few months later he found himself enlisted, by free will or against it is something that still remains unsure. This part of the movie is a bit less eventful and handles the inner demons of these normal men who had to take up arms more, which is another interesting facet.

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Overall the pace is capricious as the movie starts with a lot of action packed into several minutes, to shift between combat and drama after that. While the overall flow is rather enjoyable and makes you wonder about how the soldiers must have felt, and that they truly were ‘following orders’, it’s sometimes hard to adapt from the gritty brutal action to the calmer scenes. Nonetheless, this seemingly raw and grim atmosphere does make it a lot more personal. The only hard part of this movie is to process all the information about the characters themselves, as the lead characters don’t always feel like the actual lead character, especially the portion of the movie about Karl. Here it felt more like a broader view of every soldier in his company, rather than him alone.

Even though there’s a lot of violence in the movie, the usage of graphic material has been slimmed down to certain key moments to make them even harsher. While sometimes it’s odd to see pretty much nothing at all when someone is blown to pieces, the scenes we just mentioned suddenly become a lot more memorable and it’s easier to remember and process what just happened with the troop(s) you are watching. Another interesting aspect this movie makes use of is the fact that even in this very grim scenario the soldiers still try to find ‘humor’ in certain things, even after they have buried countless of their friends, allies, family and even enemies.

1944 2

Acting performances are actually quite commendable, especially seeing how everyone clearly shows the mental scars they received during the time they have been enlisted. It’s also fun to see that each of the actors does their best to present you with a character that has its own personality, rather than a mere soldier that fights for the glory of whoever orders them to fight.

This Blu-ray release of 1944 comes with no extra features and truth be told it doesn’t really need any to make for an interesting home release. While it would have been quite interesting to receive more information about what happened in Estonia during the war, it’s not like you’ll truly need it to put two and two together and enjoy this movie.

Conclusion

1944 is an interesting approach to what occurred in Estonia during the bloodbath between Russian and German troops, albeit many with the same roots on opposite sides. You’ll follow two young soldiers who have lived through their fair share of horrible situations and have to make conflicting choices on a daily basis. Granted this movie is certainly not for those who expect a flick along the lines of a typical John Rambo movie, it paints a rugged and crude picture of what must have been going on in the heads of good men who had to do atrocious things for evil men.

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Rating: 8.5/10 (4 votes cast)
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1944 (Blu-ray) - Movie Review, 8.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings

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