This movie is about the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920), specifically the students fighting on the nationalist side, but also shown the conflict between two ideologies (Estonian nationalism and communism).
Based on a 1935 novel about the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920) that ensured Estonia's independence, the film tells about a group of students heading to the front to fight the army of Soviet Russia but also to fight alongside their army.Written by
One great Estonian movie, perhaps even one and a half
Ladies and gents, the most overrated Estonian movie of all times. Yes - it is at times warm and touching, it boasts splendid cinematography, it lacks the daft, aggressive jingoism painfully present in most patriotic flicks (read: American ones) and is not exaggerated like the aforementioned usually tend to be.
So "Names In Marble" is not a bad movie per se. Having said that, there are things that add up to a heavy reduction in its overall value.
I personally found it irritating how Elmo Nüganen had chosen to ignore Albert Kivikas' novel and write an insipid and even quite cheesy plot riddled with holes. Nüganen obviously failed to decide whether to make a pompous war epic or a minimal, realistic drama. So he chose both. I don't know what my fellow countrymen sought in the movie; I myself found the overdramatized battle scenes (rip-offs from Saving Private Ryan, mind you) to be painfully out of place. As well as the romantic sub-plot which didn't exist in the novel in the first place. But since action and/or romance are the things that mainly appeal to an average moviegoer, you'd simply _have_ to include both - and ruin excellent script material in the process. Quite sad.
The acting is OK, but just that. No, there is nothing tearjerking in this movie, sorry to say so. Yes, the subject matter is extremely personal to us Estonians, but I found the novel a thousand times more touching and thought-provoking than this "blockbuster". And if you think that this is the very defining moment in Estonian cinematography, think again.
Oh, well. Without further ado: if you're an Estonian or a non-Estonian pathologically fascinated with local culture, and haven't yet seen the movie - go and see it, although be warned: you haven't missed anything. Otherwise do this: look up Olli Saarela's "Rukajärven tie", a splendid recent addition to a fine series of Finnish war dramas ("Talvisota", "Tuntematon sotilas"). Because while "Names in Marble's" only significant value stems from its patriotic sting, "Rukajärven tie" is actually a cinematic achievement in the best sense of the term.
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