Yesterday afternoon I watched the most incredible movie I've seen in a long time. I've mentioned it in a previous post, but had yet to see it.
It is an important film in its own right. But it was especially poignant for me as I watched The Singing Revolution with my husband's family. They lived through many of the historical events depicted in the moving documentary about the history of the various Estonian occupations before, during, and after World War II.
It was a little surreal to explain to my children that the events they were seeing depicted onscreen, really happened to the great-grandmother and grandmother who were in the room watching with them.
"You know, Helde (as their 98-year-old great-grandmother is known) was grabbed and loaded onto one of those trains, but she jumped off once it was moving and escaped."
"Helde and Emi (their 70-year old grandmother) and Onu Toivo (her older brother) took food out to those guys (the "forest brother" revolutionaries living in hiding in the forest). One time Helde was caught by a soldier, in the forest, with food for them in her hands. She told him she was feeding their family's cows or something, and - miraculously - he let her go."
"Helde and Emi and Toivo escaped, but their dad had to stay back and fight. They didn't know if they'd ever see each other again."
"As they were leaving their house in secret, Toivo grabbed a few photographs from the drawer, and Helde turned over the china cabinet, shattering everything. She determined that, if the Soviets were going to invade and occupy her home, they weren't going to eat on her dishes!"
"See?! That's why Daddy's family felt that it was so important for those who escaped to keep the language alive in their children. That's why Daddy knows Estonian."
The history is rich, the stories remarkable. And it was a privilege and blessing beyond words to watch the film together with those who had lived through it.
From one of the traditional Estonian songs featured in the film:
"Ilus, ilus, ilus on maa." ("Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful is the land.")
"Ilus on maa, mida armastan." ("Beautiful is the land that I love.")