Producer and Director: Vaado Sarapuu.
Narration: Laas Leivat
Length: 56 min Year: 2004 Language: English.
When one has to review a film made "in house", by Estonian Life's own website editor, under the name of Estonian Life Productions entity, one's heart goes in one's throat. What do say if you don't like it and if so what do you say, later, to your co-worker? This was not a problem. Vaado Sarapuu actually gave us two well defined films in one, delivered in good order, interlaced with each order.
The first story was the original history of the ERNA Recce (reconnaisance) company, a team of (sixty-five soldiers and four officers) Estonians, trained by the Finnish, under German command, formed in summer of 1941, (when Estonia was under Soviet control), to lead the recapture of their country.
The Estonians, under the command of Col. Kurg, were dropped at rough terrain 70 km east of Tallinn by the Finnish navy to direct the invasion with radio contact. They were up against Soviets' worst: their destruction troops.
The second story is of the Erna Trek (competition) which took place in 2003, rated as one of the world's most vigorous, is modeled after the original raid, at the same location, lasts five days and four nights and involves teams from Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Great Britain, Red China, among others. The winner was Finland with Estonia coming in second.
The participants had to undergo every manner of hardship ending up with a six and a half mile run to the finishing line. The extreme exertions were punctuated with mandatory rest periods and involved breaking through imprisonment, running, swimming, firing-range, going through thick bush all governed by time constraints.
The ERNA Trek was started by Lt. Meelis Rätsepp (Estonian Army) but his second seemed to be Major Pearo Nõmmik (now also Estonian Army) an Estonian-Canadian who retired from the Canadian Army.
There was a ceremony at the beginning where the members of the competition commemorate the members of the original raid in 1941, one of whom is still present. The Estonian Minister of Defense and the Chief of Staff of the Estonian Forces were also at the opening ceremonies. The underlying concept was that it doesn't require large army to win wars, just competent and strong men.
Estdocs review: ERNA