Sunday, November 28, 2021

You Watched What?

Screen capture from the clip below
So lately I've been watching a lot of foreign films, preferably in the original language (unless I'm really, really tired and can't keep up with the subtitles). The latest film is 1944, an Estonian film about World War II. Specifically Estonia's role in that conflict.

Lest you think this is some high level historical documentary, let's lay that idea to rest immediately -



It's a film about the people most impacted by war - the soldiers who fight the battles and the civilians who get caught up in the midst of battle. This film had a very interesting twist, which I won't spoil by telling you about it, you'll need to watch the film yourself. I will give you a hint - Estonians were caught up on both sides on the Eastern Front. It was a real lose-lose proposition for them.

Estonia is one of those smaller nations which always seems to be caught up in the struggles of the larger powers around her. Usually between nations which speak either German or Russian. World War II was no exception. (The Poles and the Swedes were also prominent in earlier struggles in the Baltic region.)

Estonia is one of three Baltic nations: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. I've always been interested in that area of the world as there was a small community of Lithuanians in my hometown (along with a much larger contingent of Poles). One of my best friends in those days was of Lithuanian descent.

So Estonia (Eesti Vabariik for you purists out there) was, for a century, part of the Russian Empire, the Estonians regained their independence in 1918. For those of you familiar with European history, you might recall that Hitler and Stalin ended Estonian independence in 1939 with the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939, which cleared the way for the Germans to invade Poland. (And allowed the Russians a "sphere of influence" in the Baltic, not to mention being able to stab Poland in the back some two weeks after the Nazis invaded.)

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Estonia regained her independence in 1991. Estonia joined NATO in 2004, which I'm sure the Russians don't care for.

The Estonians have one of those odd languages in Europe which aren't part of the Indo-European language family, it's most closely related to Finnish. Speaking of language (pun intentional) here's a rather attractive lady explaining Estonian -



(She's from Latvia, though she is a native Russian speaker. She explains this elsewhere on her YouTube channel. What can I say? I'm a sucker for foreign languages ...)

The one disappointment I had with the film (which I watched, with ads, on Amazon Prime via IMDb) was that it was dubbed in English. I would have much preferred it be in the original language with subtitles in English. Ah, but if wishes were horses ...

As an aside, the Russians have a number of fairly good WWII films out, my favorite being T-34, even if it is a bit overblown. Amazon Prime has a bunch of 'em, some really good, others not so much. But hey, it's a break from Hollywood and all that entails.

So that's a new thing, kind of, Sarge as film critic. But mostly war movies. Some Russian films are far too depressing. Which led me to this meme ...

(Source)
Sound familiar? (FWIW, Tolstoy drives me crazy, not in a good way either. Solzhenitsyn is almost as bad.)



28 comments:

  1. Amazon has a film you might be interested in. The film is Tangerines in the original language with subtitles. Very well done anti war film.

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  2. Second on Tangerines. It is a very engaging film.

    One of the better things about the streaming services is there is a great deal more foreign language films now available. South Korea has a pretty solid industry.

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    1. According to The Missus Herself, the Korean film industry (TV and theatrical) is everywhere. I can see that on Amazon and on Netflix.

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  3. I should like to see T-34, someday.

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  4. Some people will not tolerate the truth. Even from Solzhenitsyn.

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    1. The holocaust is taught. The Holodomr is not. None dare discuss the FIFTY MILLION the Communists murdered across Russia and Eastern Europe.

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  5. Another good Russian WWII movie of recent origin is "Tankers." Based on a real battle. One Semen Vasilievich Konovalov did some rather amazing things, it seems:

    "Born February 15, 1921 in the village. Yambulatovo (now it is the Verkhneuslonsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan. Soviet tank ace, participant in the Great Patriotic War. In one of the battles on July 13, 1942, during the Voronezh-Voroshilovgrad operation, commanding the crew of the KV-1 tank, he destroyed 16 enemy tanks and self-propelled guns. Died in Kazan on April 4, 1989 at the age of 68."

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    1. I may have seen that one a while back. I see that it's available for rent on Amazon, I may have to watch it again!

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  6. A Netflix show I enjoyed was The Defeated. It was set in immediate post-war Germany, Berlin specifically, when it was divided into 3 sectors for the US, Brits, and Commies. That's a period of history I'm not too familiar with. I can't attest to its historical accuracy, but it was a good limited series.

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    1. I tried watching that, couldn't get into it. I'll try again.

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    2. I could understand how it might turn some people off, with some soldiers in the first episode not acting like they're supposed to be acting, but that is just set up for the antagonist.

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  7. At least it wasn't CorruptSportsMoneyBall.

    My secret foreign addiction is... Anime. With subtitles. They tend to have very nuanced stories and decent plots and a couple have actually been sad, downright tearjerkers.

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    1. A lot of Westerners are in to Anime. I get it but am not enamored of it.

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    2. Oh boy. A fellow Anime fan! GATE. Girls und Panzer. Ghost in the Shell. Loads of others....

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  8. I know it's dubbed in English, but her pitch and timbre (not accent; I grew up with Hungarian, Slovak, and Germanic accents) make me want to beg for sub-titling - in English

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    1. Until I can get the rhythm of a language, I often need subtitles.

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  9. Our prefered language mode is Original (English subtitles) even if the original is English. Currently, binging a Finnish murder mystery "Deadwind", murders + politics + drugs + money + corruption, all dumped onto a just widowed lady cop ... horribly delightful. Two long seasons, a third on the way (next year)!

    "Deadwind"

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  10. So, I love to read. Books, blogs, magazines, the written word. Fiction, Nonfiction, Westerns, Military, History, Biographies, Romances, Science Fiction, Fantasy. If it's not red hot and running away from me and it's written down, I will read it...And I love nice long stories...because I read quickly, and a longer, thicker book lasts longer. Having said that I think the word that best describes Russian literature, and movies, is dour.

    Just dour.

    Not really a fan of any the Russian end of literature/culture...cause it's just...dour.

    I can find enough ways to feel depressed (have ya watched TV recently??)...don't need to read stuff that is just...dour.

    ;)

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  11. I would suggest The Dawns Here are Quiet, a 4 part miniseries set in early 1942. A burned out Red Army sergeant commands a platoon of all-female AA gunners. It's a remote backwater but the war soon intrudes. The combat scenes are great, and the back stories of the major characters are poignant: each has suffered personal tragedy, either at the hands of the Germans or their own Soviet government. The girls are hardly steely-eyed Amazon warriors but they try to rise to the occasion. Great drama.

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    1. YES! I watched that series, it was OUTSTANDING. It was everything you say it was. Great suggestion!

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