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It is the summer of 1941. An eastern-Finnish machine gun company receives an order to turn in their surplus equipment. The company is transferred to the front lines. The next morning the soldiers wake to the sound of guns - the war has begun. The Finnish troops attack and quickly move across the border. The young, nervous rookies of the company get their baptism of fire, and the men become familiar with death and the hardships of war. Under strength and badly equipped they fight a superior enemy. The lists of heroes and of the dead seem endless. Edvin Laine's epic interpretation of Väinö Linna's war novel "Tuntematon Sotilas" is an entire chapter in the book of Finnish movie history. Written by
A Finnish infantry company with machine guns fights against the Red Army.
The movie is based on a brilliant and realistic book (Unknown soldier) about the "Continuation War" between Finland and Soviet Union from 1941 to 1944.
After the initial fast attack phase the war turns into sleepy trench warfare (1942-44), then (1944)the company has to retreat and finally stop the storming Red Army forces. There exists a wide spectrum of characters from cowards to heroes, from peasant rank-and-file soldiers to cocky officers. The scale in personalities and changing situations of war, which are credibly described, makes the movie a spectacle.
It helps a lot if one knows some of the underlying history, but the story is rather universal tale of the cruelty of war and the men who have to live and die for their country and different motives. The language with dialects is versatile, but in Finnish only. This old version (1955) is in my opinion better than the later one (1985).
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