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7 Great Foreign Language War Films You Should See: Unknown Soldier

Like many history buffs, I love it when films bring military history to life. Of course, I prefer they do it in a believable way and with the support of an intriguing story such as Saving Private Ryan or Platoon.

Good war films can help supply the dramatics and realism of war to those of us who are already submersed in military history, but they also bring in a new generation of history lovers. In my case, films convinced me to read about events after viewing films like The Longest Day, A Bridge Too Far, and Stalag 17.

World War II films are perhaps the most popular and lauded of all war films and for good reason. Many non-English speaking countries have contributed significantly to the genre, but often get overlooked by even the stoutest of military history geeks.

Here are seven World War II films from various countries in no particular order that are worth your time to see if you haven’t already. I have narrowed the field to include only films with regular units; therefore, no partisan, resistance, or commando style films. Also, all these films are available with English subtitles.

1. Stalingrad (German – 1993)

2. Brest Fortress (Belorussian/Russian – 2010)

3. Unknown Soldier (Finland – 2017)

4. Days of Glory (Morocco – 2006)

5. Battle for Sevastopol (2015 – Russian)

6. Das Boot (German – 1981)

7. 1944 (Estonian – 2015)

Unknown Soldier

(Finland – 2017)

This is the most recent addition to a host of films done about the Winter War and the subsequent “Continuation War” (Finland’s name for their involvement in WWII) with the Soviet Union from a Finnish perspective.

It is probably the best of them as well. It is the most expensive Finnish film ever at 7 million euros.

The film centers on a Finnish machine gun company during the “Continuation War” that fights against the Soviets along with their German allies.

The unit moves in the attack into Karelia in June of 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa. The Finns planned to reclaim territory lost to the Soviet Union during the Winter War of 1939-40.

The film is very honest about Finland’s role in the war: its alliance with Germany, aggressions, etc.

It was extremely successful in Finland and some other European countries but failed to get wide release in the UK and US. The original version is over 3 hours and packed with great action sequences.

One specific thing to note is that Unknown Soldier holds the Guinness World Record for the most explosives in one film take (over 70 kg of TNT).