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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, funny, inspirational, beautiful
What an extraordinary movie! I was confused at the beginning, as were the 3 people with whom I was watching this ultimately marvelous film. We couldn't figure out why the guy was being chained to the rock, who was on which side of the war, what languages they were speaking. But with a little patience and perseverance, it all becomes crystal clear and the movie soars to...
Published on January 4, 2004 by Peggy Vincent

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Strange
This is a very strange movie about WW 2 in Finland. In Russian and Finnish with English subtitles. I cannot recommend it.
Published 2 months ago by Mauserwerke


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90 of 92 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary, funny, inspirational, beautiful, January 4, 2004
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Cuckoo (DVD)
What an extraordinary movie! I was confused at the beginning, as were the 3 people with whom I was watching this ultimately marvelous film. We couldn't figure out why the guy was being chained to the rock, who was on which side of the war, what languages they were speaking. But with a little patience and perseverance, it all becomes crystal clear and the movie soars to the stratosphere. Ten stars.
The whole movie is set in Lappland, home of the ethnic Sami people. There's a pacifist-Finnish-conscript-sniper-prisoner of the Russians (got all that?) who is chained to the rock and left to die (dressed in an SS uniform) because he just doesn't want to fight any more. Didn't want to fight in the first place. Most of the beginning of the movie is taken up with his persistent and ingenious attempts to free himself from the chains - and I think it was all of those schemes that kept my 18yo son fascinated. By the time the bolt came loose from the stone, my kid was hooked on `the real story,' and, in spite of hating subtitles, he stuck around to the end and loved it.
Okay, stay with me here. Then there's a Russian prisoner of his own countrymen being taken to trial for the anti-Communist views found in his diaries. The jeep with the Russian is bombed; only the prisoner survives, but he's badly concussed.
And there's an utterly charming and luminous young Sami woman living alone (her husband was taken off 4 yrs earlier as a conscript) on a spit of land in a beautiful but pretty barren wilderness who ends up with both men in her hut. None of them speak a common language. The subtitles are hilarious as they babble on incessantly to each other with only occasional glimmers of real communication and understanding. But somehow they forge bonds, the seasons pass, the odd romances blossom and wane - and at the back of the whole story is one of the strongest anti-war messages I've ever seen.
Anni-Christina Juuso, the Sami actress, is nothing short of extraordinary.
The ending is touchingly beautiful, perfectly fitting for this touchingly beautiful film.
See it now.
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65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars AN UNEXPECTED SURPRISE, August 22, 2004
By 
Boris Zubry "Boris Zubry" (Princeton, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Cuckoo (DVD)
The main theme of this film is well known and very well worked out. Two enemies meet in a neutral surrounding. They want to kill each other, but by one reason or another, they don't. Sounds familiar? Well here we have an extra twist - a woman. None of these three people understand each other; they speak different languages and they have different backgrounds. There is no understanding but yet there is some. They feel each other.

The film is smartly complemented by the excellent director's work, superb acting, top cinematography, and the beautiful scenery of (Laplandia - Korelia) the northern Russia - southern Finland. This was the territory the Soviets aggressively took away from the Finns in 1939 in the Soviet - Finish war (the forgotten war). That is when the Finish snipers and the brutal winter destroyed the Soviet Army but still a little country as Finland could not defend itself against the Soviet might.

I give this film five stars and a very warm recommendation to everyone to watch it.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Impressive ..., August 18, 2005
This review is from: The Cuckoo (DVD)
A very simple happenstance movie about a frustrated Russian soldier, a reluctant Finn soldier and a pastoral Sami woman. There are just the three characters in the movie and all of them speak different languages (Russian, Finnish and Sami). The Finn soldier (Veikko played by Ville Haapasalo) is a sniper (Cuckoo in military jargon) who is chained to his position in a remote outpost. His die-hard and innovative attempts to get rid of the shackles whilst complaining about the war, are simply hilarious (the actor's silent facial expressions are most impressive). The Russian soldier/prisoner (Ivan) is stranded in a foreign land and is ever suspicious. The pastoral Sami woman (Anni played by Anni-Kristiina Juuso)steals the show with her top-notch acting. Her bucolic lifestyle and simple outlook towards life is thought provoking. None of the characters in the movie can speak or understand each other's language and their interactions (mostly miscommunications) are simply hilarious.

In one of the scenes, Ivan cooks mushrooms for dinner. Anni thinks mushrooms will give Ivan a bad stomach. She prepares an infusion and (kindly) offers it to Ivan, who gladly drinks appreciating the wonderful taste. The infusion is in fact a potent laxative that takes immediate affect.

All in all a wonderful movie from Russia that reaffirms the beauty of life and the futility of war. It is also a movie about making connections by letting go of fear, suspicion and predisposed biases.

Solid performances by Anni-Kristiina Juuso & Ville Haapasalo.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cukoo, November 9, 2003
This review is from: The Cuckoo [VHS] (VHS Tape)
I saw this movie at a festival last month. It was produced in Russia, with the subject matter taken from WWII somewhere along the Finland/Russia border in Lapland. Fabulous scenery! I have seen other movies about this time period from the Finnish perspective. This is not a typiclal war movie with lots of blood and gore. Its main characters include a Finnish soldier left to an uncertain fate by his Germain allies, a Lapp woman, and a captured Russian soldier. All three speak with great emotion in their native tongues throughout, although it is apparent that they do not share a common language. This lends humor at times, but also adds a great deal to the effectiveness of their roles. Thank God for subtitles. Both of the Finns, the soldier and the Lapp, are well known cross border thesbians. The Russian actor deserves to be as well. One of the best movies I have ever seen, but I have the advantage of perspective of the era portrayed.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the greates anti-war movies, April 16, 2004
By 
Sergei K. (Richmond Hill, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Cuckoo (DVD)
I would put this movie in the top ten war-movies ever made. The storyline is powerful, actor's play - magnificent and camera work - flawless. The only drawback is that viewer really ought to know at least one language - Russian, Finnish or Lapp to truly enjoy the intricacies of "he-said-I-perceive" word play that flows through the movie. For English speaking viewer it really helps to start not with the movie itself but go to "Special Features" and see "Making of Featurette" to fill the gaps in particular points of Russo-Finnish war in 1944 and better understand the movie. Like, a question that clearly baffles some of the reviewers- why was that Finn soldier (Veikko) chained to the rock by the fellow Finns and changed to the SS uniform? Well, for one, SS soldiers, being staunch followers of Nazi ideology and major participant in all these countless war crimes they committed against citizens of USSR, were rarely taken prisoners on Eastern front. Thus, for Veikko accused of being pacifist, the only way to prolong his own life, was to kill any Russian soldiers on sight. The morbid irony of this situation was not lost for him or his executors and was obviously intended as an additional punishment.
Its quite useless to tell the story line - everybody will have own perception of the story and emotional impact of this movie also, will be different for every person. One thing is certain- this movie is definitely worth seeing.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars interesting, thought provoking film, December 14, 2005
By 
This review is from: The Cuckoo (DVD)
The previews for this film caught my attention, so I rented it as soon as it came out. It was a very interesting and thought provoking film. How would three people with different languages and different cultures interact, especially if two of them are enemies? This film explores that question. The performances were outstanding, and the film was beautifully and artisticly done. Much of it was very funny, as the audience is let in on both what WAS being said and what was THOUGHT to be being said. One example of this is Ivan being called Gerlost as if that is his name because he is always telling Veiko to get lost. Even people who speak the same language have a hard time communicating. While this film is rated PG-13, parents of older teens ought to preview it separately so as to make an informed decision as to whether they want their older teens to see it (I wouldn't). This is because of some issues of religion and morality (to say more would give to many plot spoilers).
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cuckoo: A History Lesson of Finnish Involvement in WWII, August 17, 2004
By 
This review is from: The Cuckoo (DVD)
HISTORY LESSON: To explain some things that a lot of people reviewing this film don't understand, Finland was NEVER allies with Nazi Germany. They were invaded by Russia at the beginning of the war, and appealed to Sweden, France and Britain as well as Germany for aid. France and Britain were the only ones to aid them, and very little at that. At the beginning of the war, German officers led the Russians into battle against the Finns. Later, the Finns fought to expel the Germans from Lapland. The Germans even scorched vast areas of Lapland in retaliation. My fiancée's grandfather fought the Russians during the Winter War and spent time in a Russian POW camp, but was also wounded by a German grenade.

(For more information Google "The Winter War" and "The Lapland War.")

As the Finnish population is so small, it was imperative that every able-bodied man fight in the war. Veiko was dressed as an SS officer as punishment for being a deserter. This was common practice. The Russians would shoot him on sight, since by the end of the war they were fighting the fascists. He had no choice but to fight to defend himself after being chained to the rock to die.

It is very interesting hearing Sami, since the Lapps guard their language and refuse to teach it to outsiders, and very few Lapps ever leave their villages (they might be likened to the Amish in the United States.) Much of their culture remains as it did in the film to this day.

I couldn't help but laugh out loud when Veiko went to build the sauna. Finns joke that they can't live without a sauna (sauna is, after all, a Finnish word.) Even during the war, groups of Finnish soldiers would build makeshift saunas.

This movie is absolutely brilliant. The cinematography and story are beautiful. At times you will laugh out loud but quickly want to cry. The ending, though bittersweet, fit the film well.

I recommend it to anyone who loves foreign, art, OR war films. My fiancée and I enjoyed hearing Finnish for the first time in ages, since his entire family moved back to Helsinki. The scenery even made him homesick.

Review by Lauren Thomas, Murfreesboro TN.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable Cuckoo, December 29, 2003
This review is from: The Cuckoo (DVD)
This is an extraordinary tale of a Sami woman, a Russian Soldier, and a Finnish Conscript. The tale begins in Lappland, home to the Sami people, with the Finnish Conscript, garbed in SS costume, as a prisoner of the Russians being chained to a rock and left to die. Our Russian is himself a prisoner, taken to trial for his anti-Communist beliefs. On the road to his trial, he and his custodians are attacked by one of their own aircraft. The Finnish Conscript, a sniper on a suicide mission known as a "cuckoo," he bears witness to the events, but is more concerned with escaping from his bindings. This is where the Sami woman comes in. During the morning, while in search of materials, she comes across the carcasses of the Russian's captors, as well as the Russian who is dying after the attack. She buries the other Russians, and drags the Russian back to her encampment, and begins to nurse him back to health. Shortly afterwards the Finnish Conscript who had successfully freed himself from his chains, finds his way to the encampment.
The story is about three people who speak three different languages, learning to communicate outside of language. This is not a war film, but an anti-war film. It is well written, well acted, and it is a story that will touch your heart. The actors are authentic, and the Sami actress, Anni-Christina Juuso, is extraordinary. The movie is beautifully photographed. It is funny, sad, and touching. Highly recomended.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie with many lessons, July 28, 2005
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Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: The Cuckoo (DVD)
I stumbled upon this movie on cable and am glad I did. Other reviews identify that this movie is about three people, each speaking different languages, who meet and interact. I believe, though, that this movie really portrays the dynamics of communciations on many levels. It is striking that these three people never learn each other's language but instead hold conversations based on what each one ASSUMES is being disussed.

I've likened this movie's theme to the problems I've observed (and experienced) in the communications between technical people and executives, women and men, parents and children --you name it. We make the conversation fit what we understand (and want) the purpose to be rather than really make an effort to understand what the other person is actually saying. That really IS deep.

Throw in the subtle humor and the beautiful scenery and you'll find this is a movie that makes one laugh and think- and is certainly worth watching!
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "My soul's been emptied by the war", December 30, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Cuckoo (DVD)
Somewhere in the isolated and stark Lapland countryside a few days before Finland pulls out of World War II a Finnish sniper is chained to a rock after being accused of being a pacifist and a reluctant fighter. After he is deserted and left for dead he struggles and perseveres to unhinge the chains and break free. He then befriends a Lapp woman farmer and an AWOL Russian soldier on the farm and hides until he can safely return home. What follows is a marvelous film of friendship between unlikely individuals in difficult circumstances. There are obvious language barriers between the three but they continue speaking with each other in their own tongues. The farm is almost completely self-sufficient so there is much hard work to do before the winter sets in. In addition there are apparent romantic feelings between the farmer and one of the soldiers that leaves the other feeling bad. All three elements add for an interesting DVD experience.
The cinematography of THE CUCKOO is excellent and the story is captivating. This is the second terrific Finnish film I have seen lately (THE MAN WITHOUT A PAST being the other) which makes me believe that Finland can produce entertaining and innovative films. I will definitely keep my eye out for more DVDs from this small yet impressive country.
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The Cuckoo
The Cuckoo by Aleksandr Rogozhkin (DVD - 2003)
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