In times of war it is very easy to think of your enemy as the embodiment of evil. Sometimes it is necessary to do so. However, more often than not, the person on the other side of the line is just like you, a patriot doing their duty for their country, with mild to moderate understanding of the overall big picture. 1944 helps to illuminate this point, as the audience gets to experience the war from both sides of the battle. In this case it was Estonians fighting on both sides, further complicating the morality of the situation. We are thrown into the middle of the war almost instantly, opening up in the trenches with one of the main focal points of the story, Karl. Karl is a haunted young man, traumatized by his family deportation to Siberia. He brings that intensity into the battle until his first face-to-face confrontation with the enemy when he sees that it was his fellow countrymen, young and inexperienced soldiers.
Across enemy lines, Red Army soldier Juri must walk a fine line in regards to his duty to the men he is serving with and his obligation to his commanding officer who expects him to report any anti-communist comment made by his fellow soldiers.
These two characters are not only connected by their circumstance, but by a certain young lady; Juri’s love interest and Karl’s sister. Talk about a coincidence that can only happen in the movies.
There’s no wonder there is Oscar buzz surrounding this film given the great depiction of the battleground scenes, specifically the scenes in the trenches. The audience is treated to an immersive experience courtesy of these sequences. As a soldier myself, it was very educational for me to glean some insight into past battleground tactics. History buffs are likely to be impressed by this depiction as well.
As I mentioned earlier, this film was a real eye-opener for me in regards to realizing that the person on the opposing side shares more similarities with myself than I originally thought. This will not affect my ability to participate in the fight, but it helps me to remember that the person I’m facing is not inherently evil. That knowledge will allow me to conduct myself with a level of respect.
In conclusion, 1944 is a worthwhile experience that I recommend for all, especially if you enjoy war films or if you are particularly interested in history. It’s definitely got my vote for the foreign film category.