Fleeing from the Russian secret police, a young Estonian fencer is forced to return to his homeland, where he becomes a physical education teacher at a local school. The past however catches up and puts him in front of a difficult choice.
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).
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Fleeing from the Russian secret police because of his controversial past, a young Estonian fencer named Endel is forced to return to his homeland, where he begins to train a group of young children in the art of fencing. The past however catches up with him and Endel has to choose between letting his students down or putting his life in danger. The movie is partially based on the real life story of an Estonian fencer Endel Nelis (1925-1993).Written by
Finnish candidate for the best foreign language film in 2016 Academy Awards. See more »
When Endel returns from Russia and steps out of the train, there are 2 camera angles showing the train from both ends. Though there is steam coming beneath of the carriage, there is no locomotive seen. See more »
Another fine example of Estonian film under foreign direction
Last year, we could all witness the fame of Estonian-Georgian film Tangerines which got both Golden Globe and Academy Award nomination, and lots of fame and praise among exacting audience. And another surprise already this year - the film in question, a Finnish/German/Estonian co-production which was nominated for Golden Globe "only"...
As I kept track of the origin and development of this film, I did not even think of it as a kind of sports film, although fencing plays here a significant role, both directly and in the background. Later I have read that several foreign viewers had previously perceived it as a sports film but were pleasantly surprised afterwards that it was no Rocky within the different kind of sports but a realistic picture of a Stalin-era town in a Soviet Estonia. The atmosphere and environment are depicted in a realistic manner, enhanced by post-WWII poverty and gray weather scenes, but there is enough space for human dimension and even some romance.
Althouh the plot is not totally smooth, the great performances and taut moments provide additional value to the film. Actors like Märt Avandi or Hendrik Toompere could be easily used abroad as well, and all children did their best (in many films, children lines seem mugged up, but not here).
All in all, a good film about surviving and making choices under tough and unpredictable circumstances, when every "hobby" or non-ideological endeavour helped to move beyond the misery around - at least temporarily.
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