Tali-Ihantala 1944 (2007) Poster

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8/10
think of it as a documentary, not a movie
janne-ojaniemi20 March 2008
Like I said in the discussion-threads about this movie: this a documentary masquerading as a movie. There's zero character-development and "drama". What we have instead is warfare. No BS, just warfare. If you expect good characters and all the other things you could find in other movies, this is not a movies for you. But if you are interested in warfare, then this movie delivers.

And to comment on the review by Mr. Stensson from Sweden: Continuation War is in fact _widely_ discussed in Finland :). And fighting alongside Germans was realistically speaking the only choice. Allying with the West was not possible, since Germany occupied Norway. Allying with Sweden was attempted, but Soviets would not allow it. Allying with Soviets was not an option, since they kept on harassing Finland after the war, and it was thought that they would resume hostilities sooner or later. And I would say that the West made a deal with the devil as well. In many ways the Stalinist USSR was just as bad as Nazi-Germany was.

Like it's name says, Continuation War was a direct continuation of Winter War. Had Winter War not happened, there would not have been Continuation War. And we all know who started the Winter War....

Finns never attempted to attack Leningrad, and they in fact voluntarily stopped at the old border in the Karelian Isthmus (well, they straightened the front by going over the border in the middle, but that's about it). Had they wanted to, they could have taken Leningrad, since Soviets had moved most of their troops against the Germans.

I would like to know what we _should_ have done instead? And in any case: hindsight is always 20/20. What all this has to do with the qualities of this particular movie is beyond me... If you want to further discuss this topic, my advice is to head to the discussion-forum.
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6/10
So, another Finnish war movie
Stenu7 December 2007
First of all, I have to say that I had huge expectations about the movie. I went to theater to see some mind-blowing action. I was hoping that Åke Lindman had made something spectacular as his last movie. I also believed in his directing talents. Now I sadly have to say that the movie didn't fulfill my expectations.

The movie was a bit bouncing: Going there, doing that, coming back and going again. Different people fought in different places and sometimes it was hard to follow what was happening as a whole. Well this wasn't too disturbing as the movie still was entertaining. Especially all tank-scenes were amazing. The lack of money, which was clearly visible, was maybe the most disruptive thing in the movie. As mentioned in the movie, there were about 250 cannons and mortars, plus bomber planes, targeting the Tali-Ihantala area. But when the "big fight" came, it looked like about 10 guns were bombing the woods with smoke grenades (And I can say this because I have served in mortar company in the Finnish army). I'm sure it looked like that because there were not enough money to make it look realistic. I was also hoping more soldiers running in the woods because hey, it was supposed to be the biggest fight in the northern Europe!

Now the rating of the movie. I was balancing between 6 and 7. I would have wanted to give it 7 points, but as I was thinking it, the movie actually left me disappointed. It wasn't as astonishing as I wanted. It was just another Finnish war movie, and even Tuntematon sotilas from the year 1955 and especially The Winter war from 1989 are much better movies than this one.

So, should you go to watch Tali-Ihantala? a) Finnish movie business needs your money, so YES! b) If you like Finnish war movies, definitely yes. But if you decide to go watch it, don't have too big expectations so you won't be disappointed.

P.S. Not a single mortar was shown during the movie. Why? Glad they mentioned them though ;)
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6/10
a little too ambitious for its budget, script, and director - but worth watching for war buffs
Michael A. Martinez15 July 2008
I'm a huge fan of Finnish war movies. I went to great pains to import copies of TALVISOTA, both versions of TUNTEMATON SOTILAS, BEYOND THE FRONT LINE (a good, less-ambitious run-up to this film), and AMBUSH. Of all those, TALVISOTA is easily the best, though the 1955 version of SOTILAS is a close second. It seems to me all the others are in no way able to match TALVISOTA in terms of raw absorbing action, realism, and suspense.

TALI-IHANTALA 1944 fails dramatically to establish any sort of narrative. There are no characters and no plot beyond sticking to historic events. You'll see a 10-minute vignette such as that of a forward artillery observer who gets wounded. When the Russians overwhelm his position, he runs off into the forest and the film never mentions him again! He's not the only one - this happens to every character! There is no closure or any attention given to anybody.

The action scenes are plentiful and often exciting but feel sloppily, haphazardly staged, and often (in spite of lots of great period armor) quite cheap as well! The film even has to rely on stock footage for its portrayal of the German air assault later in the film. It makes you wonder why they even bothered including the subplot, as it adds absolutely nothing! We don't even get a sense of the damage being done or the amount of lives lost until the final shot in the film - which is just too little, too late.

I am quite happy that they managed to rig up a lot of historically accurate T-34/85s and even an extremely rare (nowadays) T-34/76. Also look for StugIII's, an ISU-152, and a KV-IS. Great stuff - too bad they didn't make better use of it. I'm a big tank/war buff and I still found myself drifting off to sleep during the battle scenes. The immediacy just isn't there - especially when there's only a couple dozen extras as soldiers (with no ammo packs or anything, mind you) when there should be thousands! Refreshingly, at least for American viewers like me who are fed up with CGI, there is very little computer-generated anything in this film. In fact, I don't think there really was any at all besides a quick flyover by a Soviet plane or two.
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8/10
Worth a Look
gordonl5630 July 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Tali-Ihantala – 2007

This Finnish film comes across as sort of a mixture of documentary and war film. It tells the tale of the Battle of Tali-Ihantala in mid 1944. This is where the outnumbered Finnish forces stopped the Soviet push to knock Finland out of war and conquer the country.

It was a skin of the teeth type battle with the Finns just barely holding the line. It was enough of a victory though that the Soviets decided to go for a negotiated peace treaty. They had use for their troops and tanks further south to pursue the fleeing German Army.

The film follows several different small units as they are thrown into combat against the Soviet Red Army. One follows a recon unit hiding behind Soviet lines. Another tells about a Finnish Unit made up of captured Soviet tanks and German supplied assault guns. Then there is the story of how the massed Finnish artillery saved the day at the last moment.

This is an interesting war film about one of the more unknown areas of the World War Two conflict. It might not be to everyone's taste, but should satisfy the war film buff. Of particular interest is the use of actual WW2 tanks etc.
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5/10
If you can't say anything good...
Antti Salminen7 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
you shouldn't say anything at all. But I'll have to say something. I was so disappointed.

When you get your actors from a badly acted Finnish soap-opera, you'll get the level of acting too. Most of the time acting & dialog feels like a parody from a 1950s Finnish military-farce; even when the movie tries to bee precisely accurate to the real incidents or dialogs. In many scenes I felt embarrassment towards the actors. Amount of clichés was overwhelming. 'nuff said.

It's understandable that most of the scenes feel lose from the whole picture, as the movie chops the main battles of the Ihantala in different parts. But still most of the scenes feel way too shallow and short. The battle scenes are way too short and clean to be in a war movie. War ain't suppose to be pretty, that is just wrong for the sake of the audience and for the war veterans we want to honor.

Sound-world was flat, or the movie theater were I went didn't know how to use the volume. I know that you can't talk with regular tone of voice inside a battle tank, not nowadays and specially not in WW2 era. Weird choice from the director was play the classical soundtrack in-front and the battle noises at-back in few battle scenes, where it would have worked obviously much better in the other way.

Well only good thing was that movie was, in a big picture, faithful for the real events. Director did give a notice that Finns lost a lot of ground in the beginning of the Ihantala battle. Unfortunately the movie managed to hide the most intense defense-battles at the end.

I could recommend few much better TV-documentaries, more informative, more intense..
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10/10
This a wonderful movie about a little-known war.
brianshoebridge130 June 2014
I really don't understand why this movie does not rate much, much more highly. It seems that Finns are the harshest critics. While they may have their reasons, for a wider audience I can't think of many better films on WW2. (I am Australian btw).

This is a detailed, gripping retelling of a little known war. The attention to detail is outstanding, whether it is the tanks, the scenes, the positions or the thinking behind it all. For a minor language film (sorry Finns but it is the case) it is particularly lavish in quality, scope & depth.

No, it is not a character drama. To be honest, the characters are only to hold the wider story together. If character drama is what you are after, look elsewhere or be disappointed. That is NOT what Tali- Inhatala is all about. I get the feeling that this movie was intended to be a statement for history & future generations - "this is what happened & how". It succeeds remarkably well in achieving this.

A superb movie & historical record. Very, very highly recommended.
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8/10
An unconventional movie for war buffs
teppo-24 October 2008
Tali-Ihantala 1944 isn't an ordinary movie in any sense, really. There's no continuation with the characters, as the movie is basically split into several parts, between which there is no direct correlation or continuation. The parts are only woven together lightly by some "narrative" cut-scenes between them, explaining some of the major movements and events in the battles, but even so most of the time the events portrayed don't really tie in to the "large scale events" explained by the cut-scenes.

As the different parts have different characters each time, there's no character development or any major social interaction. For a large part, the actors aren't really top notch either - an unfortunate side effect of this being a Finnish film, as there simply aren't many good Finnish actors. But it has to be said that there's not even that much "real" acting to be done the way this film is made.

The main feature of the movie is the documentary-like battle scenes. The events depicted are based on real occurrences during the Tali-Ihantala battles, taken from various sources.

Of particular interest to WW2 "hardware" buffs is the part about the Finnish Armored forces. It features many authentic WW2 armored vehicles. The depicted T-34 tanks are all authentic, and so are the StuG III G assault guns. That aside, the KV tanks shown are mock-ups if memory serves, since while the real KVs that took part in those events still exist in a museum, they are not in a running condition. There's some other details not spot on as well, but that's a topic for another time.

One thing to note is that it's obvious the movie makers didn't have access to all that many tanks, as it can clearly be seen the same tanks are reused to portray tanks on both sides. It's not a big issue given the authenticity of the tanks to begin with though, and someone not more familiar with it all probably wouldn't even notice.

Most of the other battle scenes are infantry-related, which comes as no surprise since not only are they the easiest and cheapest to make, but also because infantry was the main feature of the Finnish army, since armored and air forces were very limited in size. These infantry scenes are decently made, even if nothing spectacular. Still, for many battles I ended up wishing for more sheer manpower on the screen, both for the visuals of it as well as historical accuracy.

Overall it's clear this isn't a huge-budget production. The whole film was funded in a rather unconventional fashion to make it possible to begin with. It also has to be said that indeed for the Average Joe this movie might not offer much, but for war buffs it should certainly be worth watching. Even for the average viewer, perhaps more names and details would've helped with immersing into the events more, and for war buffs this could've helped with finding more information on the depicted events.

It's a mixed review, I know (it's my first), so to summarize I'll just say that even with the budget-imposed limitations and often less than stellar acting, it was well worth watching for someone familiar with the events and with a keen interest on the whole war era, and I'll certainly buy the DVD as well, hopefully soon. For those with no real interest in war history and somewhat plain depiction of events however, it's probably best to look elsewhere, or at least make sure you know what to expect.

I'll add as an afterthought that I would have wished for a depiction of the Finnish Air Force's operations, but sadly it was not really possible with the film's style and budget (even the small part about the German flight group Kuhlmey is rather crude). The FAF's part and actions in the war are not very widely known even within Finland, so they'd deserve some publicity.
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6/10
Where's the story?
David Igra16 January 2008
As always when making a film out of historical events one is challenged with the task of trying to engage the audience, usually by adding characters or embellishing characters already available thus allowing the viewer to relate and or follow the characters throughout the film.

This film is bold enough not to fall for such obvious flirtations with the audience, it has little more story than the historical facts and the characters that appear do so just very briefly. All too briefly for anyone in the audience to remember little more than a name, maybe a rank.

All in all it becomes a rather confusing experience with names and ranks and orders flying around in the Finnish forest with the only exception of a Russian tank blowing up, or was it a Finnish tank?
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5/10
More of a documentary than a movie.
tomimt31 December 2007
If you are expecting your standard war film with a overly melodramatic love story plot line and all the other standard war film plot devices you are looking from the wrong place: Tali-Ihantala 1944 is more of a documentary trying to portray all the military units, which took part of the battle, which turned the war luck in Finland/Russia war to the advantage of Finland.

For a movie there is just too many characters in the story, which are left to the background of the greater drama of warfare. The film shows quite effectively how the military units work together and solely. There's very little sugar coating of the war, so in a word, you could have made three or four different war films from the material portrayed here in. The biggest issue here is, that this would have worked much better as a documentary series, with each episode concentrating on different units and key people. Now the film is too heavy, yet still too short.
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Very boring as a movie, and uninformative as a documentary
Matti Ronkko26 December 2008
Being Finnish, it is often difficult to comment on Finnish war movies. Since most Finns have at least an elementary grasp of the timeline and locations of the events, you can understand better what is happening in front of you. This creates a situation where these movies become difficult to follow for other audiences and that's where they usually go wrong.

Let's look at the good sides first. The fact that they actually acquired proper vehicles instead of using CGI was a huge upside. The costumes, the equipment looked pretty good. The inside shots of the vehicles were good. However, all of these upsides were not enough to cover up for the confusing direction and weak screenplay. Yes, I said it, the cat is out of the bag.

The premise is good, and if the director had chosen to go the route of "A Bridge too Far" or "The Longest Day", this movie would have been much better. The greatest flaws were the lack of character development, sense of urgency from the fighting and overall confusion of what was actually happening. These were so bad that you don't even notice the horrible dialogue.

Both of the Hollywood movies I mentioned spent the first hour with character development, and the remainder showing those characters whom you had now developed a connection to, in situations where you as the viewer felt that they were in immediate danger. In T-I, there were no scenes that had the same feeling like Robert Redford paddling across the Nijmegen or the "cricket" scene from TLD.

When shooting a large scale epic like this, the HQ scenes must act as the glue that holds all of the action together and keeps the viewer in the loop for whats actually happening. Instead of the overview maps, I would have preferred to see a mapboard and commanders discussing the situation. Now you just see almost identical maps and it seems like the Russians are not doing anything, and the Finns are mounting some kind of counterattacks somewhere for no particular reason. You can see that around 90 minutes (the radio intelligence scene) they did attempt this for a few minutes, which ended up being the most enjoyable part of the movie. Too bad that the action that unfolded ended up being so anticlimactic.

I really wanted to like this movie, but I felt very disappointed with it in the end. Also, the English subtitles had some annoying missteps evident in too many Finnish DVD productions; incorrect terminology and desperate attempt to make Finns speak UK English, whereas Finns in my experience speak more like Americans with their colorful expressions.

Recommended only for hard core WW2 vehicle buffs. I suggest "Ambush" if you're looking for an actually entertaining movie about this subject.
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8/10
A Monument, created to be as it should stand
Shaolin_Apu13 February 2008
Best thing about watching Tali-Ihantala is that you get to watch a different type of war movie after a while. The old school movie mandatorily adds women and children to plotwise useless roles to create the so called drama, but in Tali-Ihantala you get no Rambos, no cheese, no political ubercorrectness and nothing else but just war as it realistically should be, within production limitations of course.

The barrenness of no prolonged drama sequences and no main characters may strike some people as cinematographically unwise, but Tali-Ihantala is not the first war movie to use such a feature. Similar approach was used in "Thin Red Line" where there was no main characters either, but Tali-Ihantala tries not to be artsy and go too far. It comes close to a documentary but, in fact, it still is far from being a documentary.

Another film Tali-Ihantala is very close to is the "Longest Day", although the Soviet Union side is only shown as the enemy and only Finns will have any dialogue. The strenghts of the movie include fact that every main character has a historical counterpart, and a lot of authentic equipment was used in the making. The weaknesses are the limited production resources but every actor seem to do his best regardless of how amateur he is.

It is a great film, more close to actual history than "Tuntematon Sotilas" if you just allow yourself to accept it.
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2/10
No real characters, no real drama
pertti.jarla19 January 2008
Tali-Ihantala 1944 tells the story of the climactic final battles of the Finnish-Russian Continuation war. The official, polished story, the kind you would expect some veterans organization to approve: the major events of the battle are shown in chronological order. We see the action of infantry, tanks, long range recon patrols, artillery, air force, and different levels of command. All soldiers and officers behave well and correctly, there is no bad behavior or cowardice whatsoever.

This is one of the films major problems: the clean and tidy behavior of the troops is very likely historically inaccurate and false, but it is also very bad drama. We see endless orders, discussions and briefings without any conflict or tension between the characters. And the cast is huge: most people have only one or two scenes, they come and go without anyone developing any real character (Olli Ikonen perhaps comes closest as General Major Vihma). You cannot develop much compassion to these fighting and dying men when you don't know anything about them. The dialogue is poor: people describe the tactical situation in a textbook manner, and most attempts at more casual conversation fall laughably flat. "So, you receive your baptism of fire now!"

The obvious budget limitations have been commented by other reviewers. This film is a failure, recommended for fans of T 34 and KV tanks.
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The Worst War Movie Ever
mausar3 September 2011
Is it really a movie? Is it really a fictional documentary? Neither. It seems more a reenacting amateur video, than a real movie. It's not a documentary. A documentary requires clarity, but here, after almost 2 hours, you understand nothing about the 1944 Soviet offensive in Finland: you can see the reenactment of only a very little portion of the entire campaign, basically no maps (indeed, there is a map which explains quite nothing: no names of units involved in a scale too large to be useful) and no statistics at all. But… wait! We are speaking about a movie! Is this a real "movie"? A movie requires a plot. And here I see no plot at all, just series of little sketches. A movie requires a screenplay. And here I see no screenplay, just series of little textbook-style discussions about tactics, with no emotions involved. A movie requires characters. Here we can see no character, but some people who casually run or speak in front of a camera, with no character development at all. A movie requires actors: are they actors those involved in this movie? Mmmh… A movie, especially a war movie, requires action. But here I see very few actions, not realistic at all. Last but not least: a modern war movie requires magnificence. Oh yes, my dears! If CGI is already invented and introduced in cinema industry (I'm sorry for all the nostalgic of pre-CGI era), please use it! Because, after the stunning war actions in "Save private Ryan", "Band of Brothers" and "Pacific" series, "Letters from Iwo Jima" and so on, we (the average public) want to see something better than few soldiers running in a forest, some guns firing and tank duels involving two or three vehicles. Here is all amateur style: soldiers fall crying few seconds after they are hit and even when a shell hit a tank it makes just a "piff" with a little smoke cloud. OK, you don't have budget and you can't buy "Massive" or any other CGI software, nor you can pay salaries to large crews. Well: don't try to make a movie about Tali Ihantala, the largest battle in Nordic countries. It's just like making a low budget version of "The Lord of the Rings": you can try, just to have a laugh. If you don't have budget, please, try with other subjects. Last but not least: it's a Historical delusion. Because the battle of Tali Ihantala, fought between June and July of 1944 was an epic event in Europe (sometimes compared to a "Nordic Thermopylae" by historians) and, for sure, the most important battle for Finland in Second World War. It saved Finland from the same fate of the Baltic Countries, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and all the Balkan countries invaded or "liberated" by Ussr in 1944. It is indeed a very controversial war episode: outside Finland, while the Winter War (1939-40) is broadly known and morally accepted, the Continuation War (1941-44) is always a taboo. It's a unique case of a real Democracy which fought alongside Nazi Germany against Soviet Union while preserving its own liberty inside. Why waste such an interesting subject with a poor movie like this? Well, all the positive reviews speak about the original and rare war material (especially tanks), used in this movie. OK, if you just want to see some 1944 tanks running and fighting again, just go to a reenactment event. It's much more funny.
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7/10
Another good Finnish War-movie
Enchorde3 October 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Recap: Depicts the events of the battle at Tali-Ihantala 1944 between defending Finnish forces and invading Soviet army. It is told from a Finnish viewpoint with the beginning hardships and retreat, the later establishment of a new line of defence, and the subsequent battle to hold that line.

Comments: This is another very good Finnish war movie, made by director Åke Lindman, who also directed Framom främsta linjen (Beyond enemy lines). It has an impressive amount of extras and WWII equipment and so tells what feels like an accurate and plausible story of the events that occurred.

What it lacks is a clear story. There are no real main characters that remain throughout the movie, no real story that develops independently from the historic events. Characters that are shown are those in the units engaged in the battle at each time. So, this is more of a dramatized documentary than a narrative movie.

In that sense, I believe that you really need to enjoy film, and especially war movie, or be interested in war history, to enjoy this movie. If you do, I recommend it highly. If you do not, choose something else.

Me myself both enjoy movies a lot, and am interested in history, so I enjoyed it very much. But even I missed the narrative story, to identify with certain characters a bit. But hopefully this is not the last epic Finnish War movie.

7/10
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4/10
Why is this kind of patriotism never questioned?
stensson3 February 2008
Finland's struggle against the brutally attacking Soviets in 1939-1940 was heroic. What came after is not much discussed. Finland became a Nazi allied in 1941-1944, not just regaining what it had lost in 1940, but coming rather close to Leningrad, occupying some of the Soviet forces.

This is about the final battles in Finland during 1944. If this was a German picture about the Eastern front, it would be much questioned indeed. It's all so simple here. The Fins are the idealized heroes, with all the common movie virtues of its soldiers. You've got the tank heroes, the elite troop heroes, the ordinary infantry heroes, the artillery heroes, the general heroes.

An uncomplicated war movie celebrating the Finnish spirit, whatever that is. No questions about the prolonging of the war because of making friends with the devil.
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