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Gaas! Gaas! Gaas! (1931)


Theodor Luts


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civil defense | educational | See All (2) »





Filming Locations:

Tallinn, Estonia

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References Battleship Potemkin (1925) See more »

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Background information and plot
25 July 2000 | by Caius-4See all my reviews

In the late 1920's and early 1930's, a discussion about the nature of the inevitable new war appeared in Estonian press. As elsewhere, it was considered that the two most important weapons in the new war would be aircraft and war gases. This estimate was based on the bitter experiences of World War I. There was a need to inform people about the importance and means of gas protection, and so this movie was conceived.

At first, a chemist holds a brief lecture about different war gases, their effects and means of protection. The viewer can see gas masks of various kinds and how to use them. Then we see the gas-protection organization practising: giving medical aid to gas casualties, degassing countryside, and even a sports competition in gas masks and protective clothing.

Most of the movie is a vivid "what if" scenario about a gas attack in the new war. Enemy airplanes penetrate Estonian airspace and head to the larger towns. At the same time, enemy troops cross the border and launch a gas attack on land. Defensive battles break out, in which the enemy gasses the defenders, but in vain as the latter use gas protection measures and, not affected by the poisons, they stop the enemy advance.

At the same time, Estonian airplanes take off for the defence. An air battle follows, in which several enemy planes are shot down. Anti-aircraft artillery and machine guns (their crew properly protected against gas) take their toll, too, but still three planes manage to break through and drop gas bombs to Tallinn, the capital.

The effects of gas and various countermeasures are shown graphically. We see how a simple respirator made of moist cloth and earth can save lives; how hurrying in a gas-rich air brings quick suffocation; how firefighters, army and gas-protection force evacuate people, give medical aid and degas the town.

Citing the concluding caption, "Finally, the enemy was chased away by our brave air force. But, unfortunately, there were victims among those people who had not been prepared against a gas attack."

As a final remark it must be said that war gases were not used in the World War II, though all nations were prepared against it, and that one of the streets shown several times in the movie (Niguliste St.) was burnt out 13 years later in a Soviet incendiary raid.

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