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78 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare film on a not very-well known subject
The "Talvisota" is the war fought by Finland against USSR during winter 1939-1940. The conflict ended, logically, by a Soviet victory but still stands as a Finnish victory thanks to the brilliant resistance offered.
The movie "Talvisota" follows a group of Finnish reservists from the same region, including two brothers, from the pre-war mobilization on through the...
Published on 9 Aug. 2009 by Partisan

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the original version. Only 3 for this abbreviated version.
The other reviewers have pretty much summed up this film which tells part of the story of Finlands role in the early months of World War 2. Sadly most history books give this theatre of the war only a couple paragraghs if even that. Unfortunately this version of the movie seems to be the poorly edited "Belle and Blade" version. It's okay, but the original Finnish version...
Published on 6 Sept. 2011 by D. M. Kneller


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78 of 78 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare film on a not very-well known subject, 9 Aug. 2009
The "Talvisota" is the war fought by Finland against USSR during winter 1939-1940. The conflict ended, logically, by a Soviet victory but still stands as a Finnish victory thanks to the brilliant resistance offered.
The movie "Talvisota" follows a group of Finnish reservists from the same region, including two brothers, from the pre-war mobilization on through the journey to the line and the terrifying battles on the border. Made in 1989, at a time when the USSR wasn't any more the threat it was from the 1940' on, it's not a nationalist film but a truly honest reenactment of 1939-1940 Finland with ordinary men responding to their country call to arms. The fact "Talvisota" was made with only finnish actors, unknown for anybody outside Finland, helps. "Talvisota" shows no special mission or decisive raid but the dangerous life of simple soldiers, from one spot to another.
It's an astonishing movie from the historical point of view. The massive Russian attacks are quite impressive, with real Soviet T-26 light tanks.
The movie is a long one - more than 3 hours - but is truly fascinating.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars David and Goljat -the Winter War, 5 Dec. 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Winter War (Talvisota) (DVD)
The history about the war between Finland and Russia during the world wars is told strongly and honestly in this movie. Obviously the concentration is on Finlands side, it being the small, "David" against the big and powerful Russia. Characters are realistic, and the stor manages to show believably the horrors of war. There is no signs of the "american way" of commericialising or making the war beautiful, luckily enough.
A must for everybody interested in the world history.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent war film. Finland's finest!, 29 July 2009
For scale and sheer remorseless grim-reality you cannot fault Winter War. It looks fantastic. My only slight gripe would be the sub-title translation, which seems a bit odd at times, and you can loose the plot because the dialogue becomes lost in translation.

Still, just sit back watch the visuals. Speilberg had obviosuly watched it before make Ryan...
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars for the original version. Only 3 for this abbreviated version., 6 Sept. 2011
This review is from: The Winter War [DVD] (DVD)
The other reviewers have pretty much summed up this film which tells part of the story of Finlands role in the early months of World War 2. Sadly most history books give this theatre of the war only a couple paragraghs if even that. Unfortunately this version of the movie seems to be the poorly edited "Belle and Blade" version. It's okay, but the original Finnish version (with subtitles) is so much better, as are the picture and sound quality.

I suggest trying to get a copy of the original Finnish version (I got one on Ebay) which is about an hour longer and adds so much more to the film.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Talvisota", the war they call the Finnish Miracle, 16 May 2011
By 
Lance Grundy (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Winter War [DVD] (DVD)
Following the signing of the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia, much of eastern Europe was divided into what were called 'spheres of influence'. There was a Soviet 'sphere of influence' and a Nazi 'sphere of influence'. Finland was placed into the Soviet zone and during the Winter of 1939-1940 the Soviet Union invaded Finland with what appeared to be overwhelming force. The Soviet forces had three times as many soldiers as the Finns, thirty times as many aircraft, and a hundred times as many tanks. Despite this the Finns managed to hold back the Soviets for 105 days forcing them to the negotiating table where, in return for just over 10% of Finnish territory, the Soviets agreed to call a halt to further hostilities. This historic 105 day battle is called the Winter War ["Talvisota" in Finnish] and this film tells the fictional story of a platoon of Finnish reservists who leave their home village to go and fight on the front to save their country.

Made in 1989, before CGI had blurred the line between war film and video game, the film has a certain realism that is lacking in some of the more recent Hollywood 'blockbuster' war films [although many of those same Hollywood films will have been inspired by this film's recounting of war purely from a soldier's point of view]. What it lacks in special effects it makes up for in acting and attention to detail. Uniforms are ill-fitting and dirty and the troops use assorted weapons and are issued with incomplete kit, much of it salvaged from the enemy. Real Molotov cocktails are thrown at real tanks [the Finns perfected the Molotov cocktail petrol bomb as an anti-tank weapon during the Winter War]. This level of authenticity was still fairly rare in war films of the 1980s and is a definite plus. The decision to use largely unknown Finnish actors in the film also pays off. Finland still has conscription so most, if not all, of these actors will have completed their military service and served on real-life manoeuvres in the bitterly cold Finnish Winter. Having militarily experienced actors playing soldiers in a war film is most likely a director's dream as their knowledge and experience of warfare must, as it undoubtedly does here, subtly enhance the realism of the film.

Like much of what happened on the Eastern Front during the Second World War, the Finno-Soviet Winter War is an unfamiliar war to many people in the West. Without some background knowledge of the conflict the casual viewer could find this film a little confusing. Although it definitely works well as a war film in its own right, I feel that, before you watch the film, a few minutes spent on-line reading about the Winter War would be time well spent. An understanding of what happened, when it happened and why it happened would greatly enhance your enjoyment of the film and allow you to better appreciate the courage and heroism of the Finns and what they were up against. You might also want to note that, at 121 minutes, this DVD is a shortened version of the original film. There is another version available on Region 2 DVD under the Finnish title "Talvisota" that runs to 190 minutes. Anyone with more than a passing interest in this conflict may find the longer, unedited version more rewarding.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars is there a part two?, 23 May 2011
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This review is from: The Winter War [DVD] (DVD)
An important piece of history graphically portrayed but was rather disappointed with the abrupt ending. Do they go home (those that are left!) ? Do they get blown up by abandoned ordnance? was there meant to be a sequel or did they just run out of money to finish it? (or do you 'Finnish' it in this country?)
My copy from Amazon was a poor duplication being very grainy and colours very weak (yes I know it's set in Winter but so was most of 'Dr Zhivago')and it felt like one of those dodgy copies from the man with the bag in the pub. I trust not all Finnish DVDs are going to be like this as next on my list is 'Ambush'
I cannot agree it is the first of the modern graphic war films as to my mind that accolade must go to the excellent & compelling 'Cross of Iron' (which also has an abrupt 'what happens next' ending as the studio reputedly ran out of money too). I still get a sense of wartime helplessness from the original 'All Quiet on the Western Front'and rate the French attack being literally mowed down by the German machine guns panning round and the simple detached hands hanging on the barbed wire as one of the most compelling & effective scenes ever - and this was filmed in 1930 in black & white with no gore (very Hitchcockian). The one that seems to overawe all the rest in epic length & non-stop realistic action & unlimited budget is the (as yet) unobtainable Russian patriotic colossus 'Osvobozhdenie'only viewable in bits on U-tube.
Back to 'The Winter War' to summarise : well made, acted and important to remember but let down by the ending & a poor quality actual product. Will appeal to historians rather than your average war movie-goer bred on Ryan.
regards from 'darlingbehomesoon'
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars In the fine tradition of Finnish war movies but sadly only the abridged version, 27 Nov. 2011
By 
AK (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Winter War [DVD] (DVD)
The Winter War (based on the same name novel by Antti Tuuri (The Winter War)), is a pretty grim, realistic and not very glorifying or hero worshiping type of war movie from Finland, following the experiences of a Finnish infantry unit during the Winter war (November 1939 to March 1940) facing the overwhelming odds of the Red army at their doorstep.

The movie, covering both the combat and civilian aspects of the war is really a masterpiece, which is sadly let down in this - abridged - version, as some key scenes have been omitted to make it of a more palatable length. The original version is not as combat centred and is thus richer, covering a wider range of topics, and more in depth.

Still, as a viewer you will get a pretty good appreciation of the war, the gritty realities of combat, the hunger, cold, and relentless onslaught of the Soviet army. The lack of understanding of combat realities of the civilian population (who glorify it more than necessary) is still present, even if not to the same extent as in the unabridged version.

Getting hold of the original Finnish version (which I would give a full five stars) is of course preferable but even in this shortened variety, this is a solid movie. It works well in concert with the other Finnish war movies, such as The Unknown Soldier (1985) ( Tuntematon sotilas ) and its earlier incarnation The Unknown Soldier ( Tuntematon sotilas ) [DVD] (and the not quite so excellent but still good Ambush [DVD] and Tali-Ihantala 1944 ( Tali-Ihantala )), all of which cover the later Continuation War.

It may not quite do it for you if you are looking for something like Saving Private Ryan [DVD] [1998], or The Hurt Locker [DVD] but for people who have enjoyed Cross of Iron [DVD], Winter War is likely to be a good bet.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing bombardment scenes., 24 July 2010
By 
Bobby Smith (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Really enjoyed this film. The characters are believable and invoke feelings of empathy as we share their frustration and defiance at the Russian invasion of Finland. One can only admire the stoic resistance the Finns put up against the might of the Russian army - a fact that influenced Hitler to attack Russia in 1941. Where this movie scores highly is in the bombardment scenes, as the film is decorated by great plumes of earth being sent skywards every few minutes - with some truly shocking scenes of bodies being destroyed by high explosive. As my fellow reviewers have noted, it was fantastic that all the right equipment and uniforms were used - as this shows an attention to detail sadly lacking in most hollywood films. In short, if you like eastern front films with more than a touch of historical fact, buy this film.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cold Country for bold Men, 5 Mar. 2010
The Winter War lasted from December 1939 into April 1940 and was fought between Finland and Russia. How a small country of some 3,5 million people could withstand for so long massive attacks from the mighty Soviet Union of 180 million inhabitants has been a bit of a mystery ever since, or at least until the acclaimed Finnish writer Antti Tuuri published his excellent novel "The Winter War" in the 1980s. It's an extremely tersely written account told in first person by its main character Matti, a member of the Finnish homeguard, who, along with his younger and somewhat more emotional brother, is called up for military service in the weeks leading up to the war. The novel reads like nothing you have ever seen, with hardly any display of emotion except through iron hard irony. The author does nothing to make Matti sympathetic or even remotely politically correct, in fact he is a former sympathiser with the quasi-Fascist Lappo movement, which conducted an armed revolt against the Finnish government in the early 1930s and was squashed by the regular army. However, by the outbreak of the Winter War practically all internal political disagreements among the Finnish population was put aside in favour of the common cause of keeping the Russians out of the country.

By choosing a main character of this particular kind Tuuri enhances his real message. The interesting thing about Matti is not so much himself as the story he has to tell, a story which is so strong it needs no dressing up or emotional outbursts of any kind. (An English translation of the novel exists but is hard to get hold of - apparently it was published in Canada only.) Matti's ultra matter-of-fact, almost cynical way of telling his story is reflected perfectly in the film version of the novel, for which Tuuri participated in the adaptation. There isn't an ounce of sentimentality and none is needed, because the horror and tragedy speaks for itself.

This is the kind of situation small nations and little people often end up in when the big ones decide to have a go at each other. Russia's attack on Finland was purely motivated by the ambition to force through a borderline adjustment that would create a buffer zone for the Red Army in case of a German attack that used Finland as a northern flank. But the Finns didn't feel like handing over vast amounts of productive territory, including the town of Viipuri (the fourth biggest in Finland) in the Karelian Isthmus, and they thought that if they resisted a Russian attack they would be supported by, in particular, Britain. The League of Nations condemned the Russian attack and threw the country out of the assembly. Did they care? Not really. The British offered to send in troops through Lapland but this was really just an attempt to plant own forces in that area and thus cut off the supplies of crude iron from Kiruna in Sweden to Nazi-Germany, essential to the German war machine. Also England and, particularly, France were keen to move the seemingly coming and unavoidable war with Germany away from their own territories, in fact Churchill's prediction at the time was that WWII would be fought out in Northern Scandinavia. However, the Swedes refused Allied troops any kind of access into Lapland in order to maintain their own immensely profitable business adventure with Germany. In the middle of this sad mess of everyone doing what suited themselves best we find snow-covered Finnish trench lines thinly manned with young conscripts and recalled reservists, and a people willing to give anything, including their lives, to maintain their independence as a free nation.

This is really not a film for the tank-spotters or the guts-and-gore brigade, though I'm sure they'll be able to enjoy it very much for its realism and attention to detail. It is a fine work of art where the entire first hour or so has no fighting at all, just little humane stories about these civilians that are being put in uniforms (where such are available) and sent out to war. These chaps are not angels or supermen, they are just people. They are not "proud Marines" or "Airborne" or "Commandos", they are a citizen's army and couldn't give a monkey's whether someone sees them as "heroes" or not. There is no warrior worshiping or nauseating flag-waving in this film, no talk of making sacrifices and so on. The only relevant thing to these people is to keep the Russians from breaking through their lines and ruining their lives.

Luckily for the Finns, the Soviets completely underestimated the level of motivation among their enemy's troops and threw themselves into hopeless situations abundantly. Their strategy from the start was rigid and vastly miscalculated, and the film makes no attempt to hide this. There was nothing in the attack on Finland in 1939 that can be remotely compared to the kind of force with which Nazi Germany had invaded Poland in September the same year. Particularly, the use of armour and warplanes was comparatively limited, though it didn't exactly feel that way to the Finns, who had practically nothing of the kind themselves and hardly any means to withstand such attacks when they did take place. Hence the invention of the famous "Molotov Cocktail", as featured prominently in the movie.

The astonishing thing is that by making the Finnish soldier less mythical, this film and the novel it is based on only makes the Finnish resistance even more astonishing. These everyday chaps carried out a defense of their country which bordered on the impossible. Though the Russians inevitably won the war, they were shown very clearly that any attack on Finland would not be worth the casualties, whatever the outcome. What also happens during the telling of Matti's story is that he gradually becomes more and more sympathetic to the viewer or reader, as his apparent coldness reveals itself as a simple survival mechanism.

The Winter War is a chocking movie. It doesn't tell you what to think, it just shows you what happened. It's a great film.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best most realistic war film of Russian theatre of war 1939-45!, 8 Jun. 2011
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This review is from: The Winter War [DVD] (DVD)
I'm 55 and have been watching war films all my life. My dad was in the film industry before the war so war films were what we watched.

I've seen pretty well everything that Hollywood and the UK has to offer from 1939-1990 in WW2 war films, and the only one that comes close to the intensity and duration of the realism in Winter War is 'A Bridge Too Far'.

This film bows to no conventions except to tell it from the Finnish perspective as realistically and meaningfully as possible. Not meaningfully in any half arsed moralitic sense, but in the sense of a small country, Finland, fighting for survival against an enormous one. Ironically both sides were less unevn in manpower (F 1/3 million SU 3/4 million) but the Soviets had all the vtanks (2000-6000+) and aircrft (4000) the Finns had neither tanks nor aircraft to speak of.

The director does not flinch from showing the horror graphically, but always in context, and never overdone. It happens, you accept it and move on. He has some magnificent set pieces, incluyding mass Soviet infantry attacks. These are done possibly with real crowds, not vCGI crowd effects (I'm no expert on this though).

The blurb says 'compared to this SPR is a walk in the park'. Yes. SPR is 30mins of hell at Omaha, then the rest is a cakewalk. This film is a peaceful 1/2 hr of scene setting, then virtually 90 mins of continuous hellish nightmare of warfare. Realistic explosions and explosive effects (ie the ground really does erupt!) He uses wide shots for good effect, and the actors are very realistic as conscripts suddenly called up to fight. The whole thing says 'yes we will fight for our country, our homes and our comrades, bu it will still be hell and will be shown as such, graphically but realistically, ie not overdone'. It is all in Finnish and some Russian but the subtitles are well done.

Excellent and quite possibly unique. [The Russian film industry is also turning out some interesting war films. They are not bothered by 'pc'...]
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The Winter War [DVD] by Pekka Parikka (DVD - 2011)
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