1944 is an extraordinarily sad film. It looks at the reality of war but in this context, its awfulness is made worse by the fact the Soviet and Nazi presence in Estonia, renders the populace proxy pawns. They are compelled to fight in a conflict that, in essence, was not their's to start with. Nor moreover, did the outcome benefit the Estonians, who were eventually absorbed into the Soviet Union, against their will.
Soldiers on both sides kill their fellow countrymen on behalf of the Nazi's or the Soviets. Some fight for both, as soldiers defect as the Germans start to loose the war. All the while the soldiers not only see their countrymen die, but also their own civilian populace, men, women and children killed or deported to Siberia. The latter initiated by the Soviets to suppress opposition to their occupation of Estonia.
As this film shows those involved are conflicted, feeling guilt at killing their own people, even though, in most respects, they have little choice. Its the unbearable and irreconcilable psychological impact on Estonians on both sides of the political divide, that makes this film so unique and memorable.
The war scenes spare no one either. They are frank, at times brutal and unapologetic. Showing the impact on civilians as well as the soldiers.
This is a remarkable film that is not for everyone but I think everyone should watch. 10/10.
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