Purge is a Finnish film by Antti Jokinen, released in September 2012. The film is based on Finnish novelist Sofi Oksanen’s bestseller and tells a story about an Estonian family through two different storylines; which are set on distant times but closely linked to one another. The first story takes its audiences back to the 1940s, to the time of Joseph Stalin’s Great Purge, and focuses on the life of Aliide Truu (Laura Birn). The other one takes place in newly independent Estonia in 1992 and shows what is happening to Aliide’s niece, Zara (Amanda Pilke).
The two stories collide on an old farm where Aliide has been living her whole life, and where Zara goes to seek refuge. At first, neither of them knows that they are related, but as the story unfolds, they realise that they share a common past. Both of them have endured sexual, physical and emotional abuse, largely because of the Soviet time and Stalin’s crimes. Even though 50 years have passed and Estonia is now independent, Zara still suffers from the consequences.
The music, the settings and the artistic representation in the film magnify the horrors that Aliide and Zara went through. Several times I ended up covering my face with my hands to escape the awful scenes. However, there is still plenty of room for love and beauty as well, so it is well balanced.
Therefore, this film offers a good insight into history in a very emotional way. I do not believe that it touched me only because I am Estonian ̶ it made me think about people’s lives, freedom and fate in a more general way. Some critics have said that Purge is too explicit and that it leaves people with no room to draw their own conclusions. I disagree, to me it gave a lot to consider and evaluate. It was even inspiring in a sense that it made me appreciate freedom so much more. So it is definitely a film I recommend and I doubt it would leave anyone indifferent.