Estonian helmer Elmo Nuganen's feature bow "Names in Marble" is a nationalistic rallying cry. A tale of sacrifice centered on a group of students, pic may boast a setting unfamiliar to most auds and some unique history, but overall it's nothing new. Despite breaking B.O. records in Estonia, this one won't be bursting beyond the Baltics.

Estonian helmer Elmo Nuganen’s feature bow “Names in Marble” is a nationalistic rallying cry. A tale of sacrifice centered on a group of students, pic may boast a setting unfamiliar to most auds and some unique history, but overall it’s nothing new. Despite breaking B.O. records in Estonia, where it opened last November, this one won’t be bursting beyond the Baltics.

Film opens in 1918, with students clandestinely raising the Estonian national flag. They’re a mixed group, mostly well off but including nascent Bolsheviks; however, the Red Army thinks otherwise of students’ independence plans. Led by Kasper (Alo Korve), nationalist supporters are quick to sign up, but Ahas (Priit Voigemast) is slower to wake up to the cause until he meets beautiful Marta (Hele Kore) and finds his patriotism kindled. Cliches include an “I’m scared” scene, soldiers charging across a snowy field, and even Ahas rescuing his girl from a fate worse than death. It all has a very chaste, ’40s feel, with fresh-faced boys and girls finding camaraderie and a sense of purpose. Crisp, attractive lensing nicely captures the Nordic light.

Names in Marble

Estonia-Finland

Production

A Columbia TriStar Egmont release (in Estonia and Finland) of a Taska Prods. (Estonia)/MRP Matila Rohr Prods. (Finland) production. (International sales: Nordisk Film Intl., Copenhagen.) Produced by Kristian Taska. Co-producer, Ilkka Y. L. Matila. Directed by Elmo Nuganen. Screenplay, Nuganen, Kristian Taska, based on a novel by Albert Kivikas.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen), Sergei Astakhov; editor, Jukka Nykanen; music, Margo Kolar; production designer, Kalju Kivi; costume designer, Eugen Tamberg. Reviewed at Taormina Film Festival (World Cinema), June 10, 2003. Estonian and Finnish dialogue. Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Priit Voigemast, Alo Korve, Hele Kore, Anti Reinthal, Argo Aadli, Ott Aardam, Ott Sepp, Indrek Sammul, Peter Franzen.

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