Fleeing from the Russian secret police, a young Estonian fencer is forced to return to his homeland, where he becomes a physical education teacher at a local school. The past however catches up and puts him in front of a difficult choice.
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Fleeing from the Russian secret police because of his controversial past, a young Estonian fencer named Endel is forced to return to his homeland, where he begins to train a group of young children in the art of fencing. The past however catches up with him and Endel has to choose between letting his students down or putting his life in danger. The movie is partially based on the real life story of an Estonian fencer Endel Nelis (1925-1993).Written by
Intriguing Estonian film starts well but it loses momentum in the second part.
Based on a true story, this Estonian film (directed by a Finn) the film is set on 1952, when that country was under Soviet occupation. A man named Endel (Mart Avandi) arrives to a small Estonian town from Leningrad. He is obviously on the run from Soviet authorities, though we never get to know much of the back story. He presents himself to a school asking for a teaching job. He is given the physical education class, only problem is the school has no sporting equipment for the children. One day he finds in a drawer at the school a fencing sword and he starts playing with it. A girl sees him and asks him to train her in fencing. At first he refuses, but eventually announces in the school board there will be a fencing class on Saturday. To his surprise, a lot of students appear on Saturday, wanting to learn fencing. Despite his lack of charisma, the fencing classes are successful, even though they are disliked by the school director who see the sport as a remnant of a feudal past, but is outvoted by the school's parents. Eventually, Endel is so successful in training the children that he is invited to a tournament in Leningrad. The problem is that going there could blow his cover.
This is not a perfect film, it starts well, but it loses momentum in the second part. The Russians and their collaborators in Estonia (like the school director) are caricatures. And in parts of the movie, the story seems undeveloped, as when Endel starts a relationship with a woman teacher in the school.
There is a cameo as a politically persecuted grandfather of one of the boys in the school of Lembit Ufsak, who starred in the more interesting Oscar nominated Estonian film Tangerines.
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