In "1944" Director Elmo Nüganen portrays the real events on the Eastern Front in Estonia in 1944, from the Battle Of Tannenburg Line, the July fighting on the Sinimäed Hills, until November, when the Sorve peninsula was already conquered by the Soviet Army. The war is shown through the eyes of participants in the events on both warring sides - the Estonians who fought on the side of the German Army in the 20th Estonian division Waffen-SS, and as part of the 8th Estonian Rifle Corps of the Soviet Army. For residents of Estonia it was a war in which everyone makes their own choices. It is with such hard choices facing the main characters of the film - the soldiers of the opposing sides Carl Tammik and Urey Jogi - as well as their comrades, relatives, friends and even strangers.Written by
Within the first 5 minutes of watching this movie I was noticing some very keen attention to detail not seen in typical war movies. The Germanic Estonian uniforms were quite authentic, right down to the camouflage patterns and crests. The weapons, and even the handling of the weapons were true to WW2 doctrine of the time. On the soviet side you have actual T34/85 tanks, and soldiers sporting appropriate tunics and weapons. This authenticity helps with the immersion, otherwise without it, the plot means nothing.
Its a war movie about a Foreign Volunteer platoon of SS soldiers. This is a point of view seldom seen, after all these guys are fighting on the side of Adolf Hitler. And there exists a vacuum for this subject matter. In-spite of that, there is a story to tell and it should be told.
The movie takes a moment to humanize the characters. One interlude displayed the soldiers of the Estonian SS Platoon blatantly disrespecting a Nazi party member and joking about Adolf Hitler. Another scene showed the soldiers rescuing a child during an air raid. It tries to explain why good guys are fighting for the wrong side and even minimizes that issue during a friendly conversation between the main character and a Danish SS soldier. And it is true there were Corps of volunteers fighting for the Nazi's from Foreign countries. But it is not necessary to explain this, because at the heart of it this is about soldiers who are on the ropes fighting for survival just before they lost the war. So don't get too attached to the soldiers. Attrition is high.
I won't give it away, but there is a very clever change of perspective that takes place about halfway through this movie. Nuff said about that. The acting is very good. At times you can tell a limited budget was all they had to make this, and perhaps you have to admire the resourcefulness of the producers and directors to get the most out of what they had.
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