Today at work we watched a movie, but not just any movie. This was a documentary created by a long-time friend of the firm. And it wasn't just any documentary to him. To him, it represents a life dream come to fruition. The film is The Singing Revolution and it chronicles how the people of Estonia endured decades of occupation and oppression and overcame what seemed like unbeatable odds to achieve freedom. This freedom wasn't won on a battlefield; it wasn't won through bloodshed. Instead, it was achieved through determination, through courage and through patience. It is a revolution that is best remembered not for arms raised in violence, but for voices raised in song.
Growing up, the Soviet Union seemed invincible, cold and cruel, but it was also far away. It couldn't touch me, or so I thought. (And it turned out I was right.) I remember sitting on the couch on my birthday, watching the Berlin Wall come down. I remember the uneasy feeling I had watching Gorbachev, wondering if he was serious about the reforms he proposed, wondering if he would be remembered as a hero or a failure. And I remember news reports about the Baltic States. I knew where they were on the map--three tiny divisions of land tucked away under the hulking shoulder of the USSR. They were so often referred to as the Baltic States that I doubt I ever gave a thought to the fact that they were once three nations, three peoples. To me, they were all the same--distant, foreign and in struggle.
Watching the movie, I expected to see a story about freedom, a tiny David felling the Communist Goliath. But what I didn't expect was just how much the revolution is a story of culture. Concentration camps, gulags, military rule and the savages of war could not exterminate the things which made people Estonian, and it is their very culture, their singing tradition, that united them and provided them with the opportunity to oppose and eventually throw off Soviet rule. Without bloodshed.
If you live in New York or Boulder, you can currently see this film. It will be screened at the City Cinemas Village East for as many weekends as people show up (according to the website) but most certainly through this weekend. Locations and times can be found here. You can also request a local screening of the film here.
Congratulations to Jim and Maureen Tusty for making such a remarkable, moving film.