THE SINGING REVOLUTION (D: James Tusty, Maureen Castle Tusty). 94 minutes. Some subtitles. Opens Friday (April 25). For venues and times, see listings. Rating: NN
The Soviet occupation of the tiny Baltic nation of Estonia lasted from 1939 to 1992, and ended without bloodshed or violence. That’s really quite remarkable, considering the chaos that erupted virtually everywhere else in the region after the collapse of Communism.
The Singing Revolution takes its title from an act of blatant resistance at the 1969 Laulupidu song festival – singing is a national tradition in Estonia – when, after three days of Soviet-authorized songs, the onstage choir broke into an unsanctioned performance of the banned anthem Mu Isamaa On Minu Arm (Land Of My Fathers, Land That I Love).
It’s a stirring moment, and the footage is electric. But it comes nearly halfway into an exceedingly dry documentary that presents a gravely serious record of one nation’s unconventional resistance, but hasn’t the first idea how to assemble the material in an interesting or engaging manner.
Even more frustrating, directors James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty end their film with a crawl revealing all manner of fascinating biographical details about their interview subjects. One went to school with Mikhail Gorbachev, another spent decades in a gulag after WWII, and still another was a key member of a resistance movement.
Funny, you’d think they could have found room for that.