The Unknown Soldier (1955 film)

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The Unknown Soldier
Unknown soldier 1955 cover.jpg
DVD cover
Directed byEdvin Laine
Written byJuha Nevalainen
Väinö Linna
Produced byT. J. Särkkä
StarringKosti Klemelä
Heikki Savolainen
Reino Tolvanen
Distributed bySuomen Filmiteollisuus
Release date
  • December 1955 (1955-12)
Running time
169 minutes

The Unknown Soldier (Finnish: Tuntematon sotilas, Swedish: Okänd soldat) is a Finnish war film directed by Edvin Laine that premiered in December 1955. It is based on The Unknown Soldier, a novel by Väinö Linna. The story is about the Continuation War between Finland and the Soviet Union as told from the viewpoint of ordinary Finnish soldiers. The film was and remains the most successful movie ever in Finland; about 2.8 million people, or more than half the Finnish population, saw it in theaters.[1][2] Its portrayal of Linna's characters is widely accepted as canonical.

At the beginning and end of the film Finlandia, by Finnish national composer Jean Sibelius, is played.[3]


Set against the events of the Finnish Continuation War, the film follows a machine gun troop's journey into the Soviet Union. The troop includes the simple-minded Hietanen, the jokey Vanhala, the cynical Lahtinen, the cowardly Riitaoja and grumpy Lehto. The film also follows the commanding officers, such as the happy and slightly senile Captain Kaarna, the young and idealistic 2nd Lieutenant Kariluoto, the calm and modest 2nd Lieutenant Koskela and the strict and unsympathetic Lieutenant Lammio.

They face many struggles, such as seeing the supportive Kaarna die in their first battle, three of the soldiers refusing to leave their punishment post during an air-raid as well as defending the trenches after the Finns have taken back parts of Karelia. Part of the way, the troop is joined by Rokka, a Karelian veteran of the Winter War, who also clashes with Lammio due to having little respect for military discipline despite being an excellent and capable soldier.

Throughout the film several of the main characters die. Lehto is injured during night-patrol, left behind and shoots himself. Riitaoja dies the same night when he runs off frightened and gets lost in the woods. Lahtinen dies during the winter, defending his position as his fellow soldiers flee. Hietanen becomes blinded when he saves a young serviceman from being shot. His military ambulance crashes and the blinded Hietanen is gunned down by passing Russian planes while trying to save the other injured soldiers. Kariluoto dies while leading a counter-attack, and shortly afterwards Koskela gets shot while destroying a tank using a satchel charge.



Since 2000, Yle has broadcast the film every year on the Independence Day of Finland (December 6). In 2015, the movie was moved to Yle Teema, away from its usual slot on either Yle TV1 or Yle TV2.

In 1985, with Väinö Linna's approval, Rauni Mollberg directed a remake. This film follows the novel more closely but also features obvious visual nods to the 1955 version.

A new film version, directed by Aku Louhimies came out in 2017.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tuntematon sotilas". Elonet (in Finnish). Kansallinen audiovisuaalinen instituutti. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  2. ^ "Suomen Elokuva-arkisto: Katsotuimmat kotimaiset elokuvat kautta aikojen" (in Finnish). Archived from the original on 31 December 2008. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  3. ^ Scores to settle – Finnish Music Quarterly
  4. ^ Tainola, Rita (17 April 2016). "Aku Louhimies valitsi Tuntemattoman sotilaan pääosat – Eero Ahosta Antti Rokka". IS. Ilta-Sanomat. Retrieved 4 November 2016.

External links[edit]