Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Movie Recommendation: The Winter War (Talvisota)

I would like to strongly recommend the Finnish movie The Winter War (1989), which is also sometimes called Talvisota which is Finnish for "winter war." I am a sucker for historical films, and movies such as Tombstone, Braveheart, and Saving Private Ryan will always remain permanent residents of my personal top ten favorite flicks. The photograph above shows the uncut, and extended, version of The Winter War which is imported from South Korea and runs approximately 70 minutes longer than the U.S. release. The movie is in Finnish with English subtitles. If you are interested, it can be found on Amazon right hereThis is more of a movie recommendation as opposed to a movie review, and therefore I am going to refrain from delving into the plot details of this movie. However, I would like to tell you a little bit about how I came to find out about this film, as well as some of the historical information surrounding it. 

Earlier this year, I was writing a paper about the history of Finnish sovereignty for a class while I was in my final semester of college. I began my paper by writing of how Finland, after being ruled for nearly seven centuries by Sweden, their Nordic neighbor, fell under the colonial rule of Russia in 1809 which gave birth to a new era which would last until 1917. In early 1918, shortly after Finland had declared independence,  a civil war broke out in Finland, which pinned "The Reds" against "The Whites." The former were "radical socialists" who wished to emulate the Bolshevik revolution of Russia in Finland, whereas the latter were primarily composed of "anti-radical nationalists" [1]. In 1919, the horrifically brutal civil war had finally subsided, and "The Whites" had prevailed. The movie The Winter War picks up in late 1939, two decades after the Finnish Civil War, and depicts the four month struggle between Finland and the Soviet Union. While I was researching information on The Winter War for my paper, I discovered that there was a film about it, and simply decided that I needed to watch it.     

In November of 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Finland, and although the Finns were greatly outnumbered, they proved to be able to inflict significant casualties and damage and fought incredibly hard in teeth chattering extreme weather [2]. The Finns destroyed more than 2,000 Soviet tanks by using Molotov cocktails which was one of their favorite weapons and tactics. However, due to the superior manpower the Soviet Union possessed, they would ultimately prove to be too mighty a foe for Finland, and in March of 1940, Finland would sign a peace treaty and would be forced to cede 10 percent of their territory [2].  

If you will, The Winter War was something of a "Nordic Thermopylae," or the "Alamo of the East," meaning that it pinned a brave and tenacious group of people against a numerically superior enemy. Although the Finns would ultimately go on to lose, the story of The Winter War has lived on throughout history as one of the classic David vs. Goliath stories of all time nevertheless. If you are a history buff like me, then I can assure you that you will enjoy watching The Winter War.     

Till next time,


1. Tiersky, Ronald, Erik Jones, and Saskia Van. Genugten. Europe Today: A Twenty-first Century Introduction. Third ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011. Print.

2  Hickman, Kennedy. "The Winter War: Death in The Snow." Military History. (Accessed Aug. 20 2013). <>.