The Singing Revolution

The Singing Revolution

2.5 out of 52.5 out of 52.5 out of 52.5 out of 5 2.5

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The occupation of Estonia by the Soviet Union (and briefly, by Nazi Germany) from 1939 until the end of the Cold War is detailed with precision in The Singing Revolution, a public television-style documentary that serves as an informative briefing on post-WWII Baltic history. James and Maureen Castle Tusty’s film begins at the Laulupidu singing festival, an event held every five years that’s attended by thousands of Estonians and which functioned as a vehicle for social change during the century’s latter half. Singing, always part of the country’s cultural fabric, served as a means of maintaining a vital Estonian voice amid the Soviets’ systematic attempts to destroy any traces of the country’s national character. Copious archival footage and interviews with prominent figures in the revolt aid the directors’ timeline of events, in which nonviolent resistance—whether it be through song or protest—eventually contributed to Estonia achieving sovereignty. In the most startling sequence, a 1990 rally by pro-Soviet group Interfront morphed into a siege on the independence-minded Congress of Estonia’s headquarters; to counteract this mob, national radio called for help from the citizenry, which arrived in droves and, without a single act of aggression, expelled Interfront from the courtyard in which they had become trapped. Such moments, depicted via TV news reports, thrillingly encapsulate the power of democratic unity against tyranny. One wishes for a more thorough discussion about Estonia’s musical tradition and a little less repetition of the story’s primary point—namely, that singing afforded people hope and togetherness, which in turn became the seeds of a legitimate insurgency. Yet in its portrait of Estonian dissenters taking advantage of Gorbachev’s perestroika and glasnost to openly denounce the horrific Soviet legacy, Singing Revolution eloquently illustrates that, once granted, even a smidgen of freedom can transform into an unstoppable weapon against oppression.

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DVD
Distributor
Mountain View Productions
Runtime
95 min
Rating
NR
Year
2006
Director
James Tusty, Maureen Castle Tusty
Screenwriter
James Tusty, Maureen Castle Tusty
Cast
Linda Hunt, Hirvo Surva, Inna, Imra Sooäär, Toomas, Anne Raudberg, Mari-Ann Kelam, Enn Sarv, Tunne Kelam, Mart Laar, Tiia-Ester Loitme