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Reviews & Ratings for
The Unknown Soldier More at IMDbPro »Tuntematon sotilas (original title)

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59 out of 67 people found the following review useful:

Responding to a Previous Comment

Author: fugu_286 from USA
16 April 2002

I haven't ever heard such incomprehensible gibberish in my life. The Unknown Soldier (Tuntematon Sotilas) is not Soviet propoganda but a poignant and still very relevant look at the inhumanity of war. It is probably the only film that takes place during the little known Continuation War (1941-44), the sequel to the also little known Winter War (1939-40). Unlike Talvisota, the other great Finnish war movie, some knowledge of the chronology and background to this conflict is required. In 1941, Finland mobilized its forces along the 1940 armistice line incurring the wrath of the Soviet Union which bombed several Finnish cities in response. Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, began shortly after. With most Soviet forces tied down in defending the motherland against the Germans, Finland seized the opportunity and reoccupied the land it had lost in the previous war. The plucky Finns made significant gains until the war entered its 'static phase' with neither side giving or taking any ground for nearly 2 years. The Finns did, however, refuse to link up with the Germans at Stalingrad which consequently may have cost Germany (and Finland) the war. There was a color remake of this film but in my opinion, this appears to be the superior version. If you can get a copy of the novel in English, I would recommend reading that as well.

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44 out of 51 people found the following review useful:


Author: thomsohl from Norway
4 March 2005

Being a swede myself and reading politi kasses interpretation of this movie as soviet propaganda makes me embarrassed. Of course it isn't! Probably he has never seen a soviet propaganda movie? Talking about propaganda I would say "Band of Brothers" contains more American propaganda than this movie contains soviet propaganda - even though Band of Brothers is a fantastic creation. I always find it refreshing to see war movies from other countries than USA. Often the consequences and moral issues of war are more much more interesting. Almost everyone in Europe knows somebody who fought in the war or suffered the consequences. Europeans saw their continent blow into pieces. Thats why we love anti-heroic movies like Das Boot and Stalingrad - and this one. By the way, how often do you see Finnish soldiers in movies? 10 out of 10.

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29 out of 38 people found the following review useful:

Simply The Best

Author: vassell from Järvenpää, Finland
3 May 2004

There is no better war-film ever made in history. This ruthless Saga of Finland struggling against former Super Power of the world is just heavy true story. You can almost feel the fear in finnish soldiers who are doing all they can to stop russians march. Movie is fullfilled with black humor what is so common even todays finns behaviour, when they find themselves in though position. I watch this movie every year, cause I like it so much, and I´m not even a patriot or like so much about war movies in general. I recommend this movie to all. "Tuntematon sotilas" (The Unknown Soldier) is a made from the book with same name on it and I think book is even better, but of course you can´t ever compete with a movie against book (Sorry about my poor english).

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17 out of 20 people found the following review useful:

I think it is sad...

Author: tsulkaturin from Kemin Maa, Finland
30 July 2003

that someone wants to claim this movie, although it can be an "inner-circle-finnish" film, soviet propaganda. I merely would like to straighten out some facts that appeared on Politi Kasse's comment (that obviously was nothing more than a quarrelsome lie).

First, the finnish socialists did NOT join soviet partisans. The Finnish Social-democratic party had by WW2 become a party that represents political center. Some - and very few - finnish COMMUNISTS joined the partisans. It is true, however, that before the war the swedish government pressured Finland to surrender, to avoid a political conflict. And I think that was awful to hear when I first heard that, and I am very much offended of Politi Kasse's words.

Secondly, I, for one, was not forced to read the book in school. I read it two summers ago, and I don't recalled being TOLD to do so. Thirdly, that stuff about Renny Harlin having to flee to USA is ... well I won´t even dignify that with an answer.

I am deeply offended of Politi Kasse's comment, and although I file it under the rather inexhaustible file of Swedish Jealousy, I will reserve the right to make you EAT the print-out of your comment if we would ever happen to meet.

Yours, Tsulkaturin aka VP Hämäläinen, Keminmaa Finland.

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

War does not make one great...

Author: cinna665 from Helsinki, Finland
15 January 2006

Tuntematon sotilas (The Unknown Soldier) is an epic story and part of Finland's history. The movie is based on famous Finnish novel by Väinö Linna, and it is set in the Continuation War (1941-44), just about a year after the Winter War, between Finland and Soviet Union. The movie is fully black and white.

The Unknown Soldier focuses on a very diverse group of soldiers and is packed with black humour. The different Finnish dialects, that make a huge part of the fun in the jokes, are understandable only for people who know Finnish, but the overall feeling is there in the amazing acting by Reino Tolvanen (Rokka), Kosti Klemelä (Koskela) and Pentti Siimes (Määttä) - to name a few. The most powerful scene is probably the one where Lehto, Määttä and Rahikainen are stubbornly serving their disciplinary duty after refusing to obey their superiors - directly under the enemy aerial fire.

The Unknown Soldier is one of the most realistic war movies ever made. It shows the horrible facts: people die for their home land and it's not pretty. The Finnish soldiers fight against the tenfold enemy in impossible situations. They made heroic acts in their attempt to save their country, and many of these acts have been captured brilliantly in the movie as well. But the true fact of war - death - is always around, even among the war heroes. War does not make one great.

The teaching of The Unknown Soldier is that even a small country has a chance in war against an impossible enemy if the will to protect the homeland is strong enough, the people are stubborn enough and are ready to die for freedom.

The main music in the film - Jean Sibelius' Finlandia is legendary.

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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful:

A unique cinematic war monument

Author: revival05 from Sweden
7 April 2010

The Unknown Soldier is really more than just a movie. It is a monument. The two wars between Finland and Soviet is so deeply rooted in the mythology of the Finnish country that it would be utterly pointless to limit yourself to the pure cinematic qualities, if you were to appreciate this film. The film really embodies a cinematic continuation of a big statue honoring the soldiers that fought and died in these battles, carved in stone to stand forever. To this day, this is still the most successful Finnish film ever made, and Finnish TV has been airing it every Independence day for over a decade. And that is only the movie, which despite all it's values is most important as an appendix to Väinö Linnä's classic novel of the same name. The 1954 novel is truly a masterpiece of realistic fiction, and the film is really just following it's trails. It is a fine war epic, but all it's virtues stem from the original novel. That is why I'm making a point of how to approach this film. This isn't just a story about the war, this is a film about a country, being important in itself, depicting a unique piece of Finnish history exclusive for Finland.

That being said, the big thing that the film brings onto the viewer is it's big heart. This is an epic in the most classic of fashions, presenting a kind of sentimental warmth and heartbreaking honesty that only cinema can create. The psychological reality of the novel is apparent in it's narrative, using no main characters but various ones, all diverse, realistic and totally present. Film is a medium that can't really enter the human mind with such piercing accuracy, thus the film takes use of some astonishing actors letting them hammer out their characters with spellbinding presence. To say that the film is character driven isn't really accurate, it's character BASED. When we meet our first batch of characters, we expect their happy smiles to be turned into war torn frowns. But the jokers of the group insist on keeping the mood as good as possible, no matter what fate may fall upon them. One of them, the cheerful Koskela (Kosti Klemälä) even ends up becoming Sergeant after a death-defying attack on a tank, but it's no big deal as long as they don't call him 'Sir'. Other characters are more serious minded, like Rokka (Reino Tolvanen), a man twice the age of most of the other soldiers, who's got wife and children at home. He is humorous and lovable, yet fearless and completely consequent in his role as a fighter, and he has only contempt for his so-called duty of discipline. He is the best soldier in the group, we learn, yet the biggest problem for the higher ranks who disapprove of his ways. Tolvanen is furious in the role, almost resembling a Finnish Toshiro Mifune, becoming the unified center of the soldier's morality.

These are just two examples of many characters that come and go during the film. I feel I have to mention the great Åke Lindman who portrays Lehto, a nihilist killing machine who seems to have leather skin and a heart of stone. As a dark version of Clint Eastwood he will never laugh, never cry, and he will defy death until the day it gets the better of him. Yet, as stereotypical as these characters may seem, you are never quite sure if they really are as happy, brave, cowardly or honest as they seem - indeed, in Linna's original version of the novel, Lehto was portrayed as a suicidal psychopath.

Running for three hours without a traditional plot narrative, The Unknown Soldier is filled with memorable sequences worthy that of a proper epic. One short scene involves three soldiers exchanging words with two Russian women, ending up with a wild Kalinka dance. In another sequence, all the soldiers get drunk and have a party when they should be on guard for enemies and, as it happens, they are lucky enough not to get ambushed by any russians. In one scene the soldiers witness an execution to warn them about the dangers of disobedience. In another, three soldiers punished with two hours of standing guard hold their stand despite bomb planes are hovering above them, attacking the camp.

These are basically war stories, anecdotes strung together and you get the feeling the film might as well keep telling them for another three hours, because the well doesn't dry up. These stories are the body of the Finnish war history, and for every soldier who fought in the war there's bound to be hundreds. These are as good as any, and it is when you consider the weight of this event that it becomes clear just what a monument the film is. The music seals the legacy - Jean Sibelius' opus for the epic, Finlandia.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

A Finnish infantry company with machine guns fights against the Red Army.

Author: Basilius from Helsinki, Finland
27 September 1999

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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9 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

The Epic of the Unknown Heroes

Author: Shaolin_Apu from Seinäjoki, Finland
23 April 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


Edwin Laine's 'Tuntematon Sotilas' has got to be the best sentimentalist war movie ever. It is the story of Finnish war for freedom, war of survival and a war of David and Goljath. The film itself is a tribute to those warriors who saved Finland from communist yoke and occupation. The war cost a lot of blood but Finland survived and came up second in conflict, which was better than total defeat. The film as a whole is nothing but fabulous and the musical score is not just good, it is much more, it is mythological.

The film is based on Väinö Linna's novel 'Unknown soldier' (1954), which concentrates more on soldier stereotypes than historical events. Hietanen is an easy-going and well-liked Sergeant while Lehto is a cold-blooded nihilist. Vanhala is a private, who always finds out something funny about everything and Rahikainen is a soldier who's just trying to survive the war without any personal sacrifices. Rokka is a fearless but lovable hunter, who doesn't get well along with commanding officers. Lammio is a lieutenant, who is hated by his men and who'd like to employ German-like discipline into his company. Koskela is a quiet lieutenant who leads by his example and doesn't want to be called "Sir".

Private Honkajoki is the total clown of the company, who speaks like a propaganda minister or priest, but makes official precept look ridiculous. Honkajoki is also seen manufacturing a 'perpetuum mobile' and carries with his rifle a wooden crossbow, because he has found out that "new type of weaponry is crucially needed in the present large-scale conflict". And there is also private Asumaniemi who says "when will the Russians come so that I could start killing them?" The film has started to live a life of its own. It is no more the same story as told in the book. The Film has become nothing else than the new national epic of Finland. It has taken the place of 'the Kalevala' and is really 'the Iliad' rewritten.

My commentary is now made, but I still want to review the comments made by author called 'politi kasse'. It is notable that 0 out of 33 users found his comments usable. That whole commentary is risible, though it has some humorous elements with a reference to Renny Harlin and the idea that the novel is an obligatory reading at the schools, because the official movie is so bad that no one could figure anything out of it without reading the book.

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14 out of 20 people found the following review useful:


Author: Petri Pelkonen ( from Finland
12 December 2001

This war classic starts with Jean Sibelius' Finlandia.It shows how all those brave men fight against Russians in the WWII and many of them get killed.Tuntematon Sotilas from 1955 is directed by Edvin Laine and it's based on Väinö Linna's novel.This movie is filled with great actors.Reino Tolvanen is the legendary Rokka.There are also Veikko Sinisalo, Åke Lindman, Pentti Siimes, Matti Ranin, Jussi Jurkka, Tauno Palo, Tapio Hämäläinen, Olavi Ahonen, Tarmo Manni, Mikko Niskanen and Veijo Pasanen just a few to mention.The 6th day of December is the Independence Day of Finland and they usually show this war classic on that day.This year Finland has been 84 years independent.It's a good thing that they show this every year because this is the best Finnish war movie ever.This shows how brutal the war is.There are wars going on all the time somewhere.Right now there's the war against terrorists in Afghanistan.People just won't learn to live in peace.I'm just glad that Russia and Finland are in peace with each other now.I think we all should love each other, not hate.But what can I do.This just is the world we're living in.But I recommend this Finnish war drama for everybody, no matter where you're from.It lasts for 181 minutes but it's not too much for this movie.

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

A Gruesome Display

Author: TheHande
6 December 2006

The Unknown Soldier is a cinematic epic as well as a Finnish film classic. Though I have never read the original novel its easy to see why many Finns find it so compelling. Also, generally as a film it is an extremely strong example of what Finnish cinema is capable of.

The movie is a grade-A example of a good war-film, that doesn't rely solely on gruesome imagery or battle footage, but is interesting because of its strong characterization. The characters in deed are the most memorable part of the movie, despite being somewhat over-blown. The over-all tone also varies nicely, between light-hearted humour as well as extremely bleak imagery.

In all the film has only two major weaknesses. First the slightly dragging narrative responsible for the over-all length of the film as well as occasional lack of authenticity. But even with these weaknesses the film delivers a powerful message.

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