Film, based on the same-titled bestseller by Vaino Linna, has actually no plot and may be better classified as a documentary report. It is a recklessly open and hard-hitting production about victory and defeat and life and death of Finnish soldiers during the last war. The camera follows a group of soldiers and shows via very impressive scenes how they go through the murderous phase of modern warfare.
There is perhaps a bit too much of war battling in this. The constant battling becomes monotonous and even dull towards the end. The acting is honest and often very powerful, although some of the players tend to exaggeration.
Direction by Edvin Laine is very good and praiseworthy, particularly in view of the fact that he never seeks the exterior effect which easily might have cheapened the good overall impression. Technical credits are of amazingly high quality. Camerawork utilizes newsreel footage with remarkable skill. The fine score by Jean Sibelius and Ahti Sonninen greatly adds to the mood.
[Review is of the 133-min. version for foreign release.]