Saturday, September 08, 2012

Metskannikesed / Forest Violas

Лесные фиалки / [Metsäorvokit]. EE-SU = Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic 1980. PC: Tallinnfilm. D: Kaljo Kiisk. SC: Grigori Kanovičius, Isaakas Fridbergas. DP: Jüri Sillart. AD: Tõnu Virve. Makeup: Helve Sikk. M: Lembit Veevo. M played by: Tallinna Kammerorkester. Conductor: Eri Klas. S: Enn Säde. AD: Kai Schönberg, Merike Ratas. Official KGB experts: Aleksandr Ljaptshihin, Valter Mürik. Filmi direktor: Maret Hirtentreu. C: Tõnu Kark (Rein), Rudolf Allabert (Andres), Aarne Üksküla (Juhan), Enn Klooren (Kristjan), Robert Gutman (Kalev), Arvo Kukumägi (Tõnu), Jüri Järvet (Lipp, pharmacist), Tõnu Mikiver (Anti), Tõnu Saar (Lauri). – Lauri's team: Aldo Tammisaar, Edgar Jõeleht, Lembit Ilsjan. – Sulev Luik (Sander). – Sander's men: Aleksander Eelmaa, Feliks Kark, Tiit Kaldma, Vello Kont, Uno Kasenurm, Harri Paate, Jaan Rõõmussaar, Jakob Vald, Toomas Vohu, Kaarel Papagoi, Raivo Rüütel. Loc: Kohtla-Järve. The film was not released in Finland. 2489 m / 90 min. An Eesti Filmiarhiiv print with electronic subtitles in Finnish by Jenni Kavén viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki (Propaganda in Soviet Estonian Cinema seminar), 8 September 2012. Comments after the screening by the historian Pearu Kuusk.

Secret KGB experts: Uno Kask (1927-1981), Valeri Horoshozhenov (1940-2005), Gennadi Levin (*1948).

Propaganda as desinformation: in 1947, desperate Estonian forest bandits are being armed and supported by foreign Western powers, but brave NKVD double agents help contain them.

The real circumstances about the Soviet occupation and the forest brother guerrilla resistance are turned upside down in the movie.

However, little time is wasted on ideological argumentation. Metskannikesed is an action movie with a fresh and modern touch and many aspects of physical realism. The pervasive sense of suspicion and distrust in the complicated double agent narrative brings to mind the novels of Alistair MacLean.

Like in Elu tsitadellis and Valgus Koordis, the bog motif is central. In this movie the bog is a refuge of the forest brothers and a death trap to their enemies. Sounds of birds, such as loons, are ubiquitous.

Pearu Kuusk analyzed the movie at length after the screening. - Metskannikesed was a patriotic Soviet movie about fighting imperialists supporting forest brothers. - But the audiences were skilled in reading between lines and finding true information even in stories like this. - The anti-Soviet partisans were former members of the German army, defence league, and home guard, usually in groups of 5-10, working independently, in total there were some 30.000, of which 2.000 were killed by 1953. - The last capture of a forest brother was in 1978, and in 1980 the last one was found dead. - There were guerrilla fighters also in other Soviet occupied territories. - There was an NKVD anti-banditry combat unit. - Methods included: military methods, deportations, and the use of the KGB agent network (informers, assassin agents), including faked forest brother teams. - Karl-Leonhard Paulov (1924-2002) was a KGB assassin agent. - The agents acquired compromising material on forest brothers, infiltrated in the groups and used methods such as sleeping pills and poison tablets. - Western intelligence had no clear idea about what was going on in Baltic states. - There were official KGB experts in the movie: Aleksandr Ljaptshihin (1923-1996) and Valter Mürik (1925-1995), high KGB officials in Estonia. - There were also secret KGB officials: Uno Kask, Valeri Horoshozhenov (he was also a counselor in Afghanistan), and Gennadi Levin (from Kohtla-Järve, where the movie was shot). - The movie won high KGB prizes. The actor Tõnu Kark has commented that the movie was "a circus" and "a great Estonian joke" and that he used his KGB prize in useful moments to save his neck. - The reviewers commented on the tricky plot, unconventional cinematography, and good acting. - Some scenes such as drinking Ballantine's whisky in the dugout and the communal singing of "nyt vapaaks Viron maa" ("freedom to Estonia") were seen as unconvincing and ridiculous.

The visual quality was bad as the colour of the vintage 32 year old print had completely faded.

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