1944: The Last Defence (2007)


Tali-Ihantala 1944 (English title 1944: The Final Defence) is a 2007 Finnish war film directed by Åke Lindman and Sakari Kirjavainen, based on the Battle of Tali-Ihantala during the Continuation War (1941-1944), during World War Two.

Also known as Schlacht um Finnland: Tali-Ijantala 1944 (Germany), and Battle for Finland: Tali-Ihantala 1944 (English worldwide).


The Soviet army breaks through the Finnish defences on the Karelian Isthmus in June 1944, advancing with overwhelming force. Somehow, the Finnish troops must find the strength to fight back, with all odds against them. The Battle of Tali-Ihantala was the largest battle ever fought in the history of the Nordic countries. This film depicts the true events through five separate stories.


Filming began during the summer of 2006 and was screened in autumn 2007. Lindman wanted the film to be as real as possible, and only include facts. He also wanted Finns to remember the sacrifices the soldiers made in those battles.

The film received 350,000 euros in production support from the Finnish Film Foundation. The organization created to raise money for the movie was led by Admiral Jan Klenberg and was protected[clarification needed] by former Finnish President Mauno Koivisto.

The movie was made using a wide array of genuine wartime vehicles and, when it was not possible to acquire originals, replicas were used. Some of the tanks used were vehicles which had participated in the actual real-life battles depicted in the film and had been stored in a museum. Also used was a Focke-Wulf Fw 190 replica made by the German company Flug Werk. During the shooting of the movie, the aircraft was decorated with markings similar to that of Major Erich Rudorffer’s aircraft in 1944.


The reception for the film was mixed. Most of the criticism was targeted at the lack of main characters and a proper plot.


  • The special effects crew deliberately avoided big fire explosions.
    • What the audience sees is mainly peat instead of a flaming gasoline.
  • Director Åke Lindman got seriously ill during the filming.
    • He let editor Sakari Kirjavainen finish the picture.
  • Juha Tetri’s lines were dubbed by Ivo Uukkivi.
  • The premise was to make a film about the battle itself, filmed in a documentary style.
    • Therefore the story has an episodic structure and no real lead character.
    • Co-director Sakari Kirjavainen explains that in many scenes the camera “just happens to be there”.
  • The film used the last working, modernized 152 H 88-37 towed heavy howitzers during some of the battle scenes.
    • They were scrapped soon after.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Ake Lindman and Sakari Kirjavainen.
  • Producer(s): Alf Hemming and Ake Lindman.
  • Writer(s): Stefan Forss and Benedict Zilliacus.
  • Music: Timo Hietala.
  • Cinematography: Pauli Sipilainen.
  • Editor(s): Juha Antti-Poika and Sakari Kirjavainen.
  • Production: Ake Lindman Film-Procutions.
  • Distributor(s):
    • Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (2007) (Finland) (theatrical).
    • Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (2008) (Sweden) (theatrical).
    • 101 Films (2016) (UK) (all media).
    • Buena Vista International Finland (2007) (Finland) (all media).
    • Pandastorm Pictures (2012) (Germany) (DVD).
    • Pandastorm Pictures (2012) (UK) (DVD).
  • Release Date: 07 December 2007 (Finland).
  • Running Time: 117 minutes.
  • Rating: 12.
  • Country: Finland.
  • Language: Finnish and Swedish.

Video Link

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