Warning : PG : Violence. 97 minutes
Music has incredible power, and as The Singing Revolution proves, even cheesy, over-produced and over-performed music has undeniable emotional potency when it's used to rally people around a common cause.
So no matter what you think of the actual tunes in The Singing Revolution, the beauty of the human voice always rings loud and clear as documentary filmmakers James Tusty and Maureen Castle Tusty take the viewer on a speedy tour of Baltic history.
Beginning with Estonia's long history of invasion and occupation by surrounding countries, the movie's central arc begins with the 1939 signing of the "Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact" that saw Estonia, and fellow Baltic states, split between Germany and the Soviet Union.
Once Estonia came "under the protection" of the Soviets, it ceased to exist outside the minds and hearts of its citizens, who now faced long visits to Siberia if they felt a twinge of Estonian patriotism.
For years, Estonians were silenced, but they still found a way to sing and soon singing became a symbol of Estonian identity. By the time Mikhail Gorbachev took office, singing became a form of resistance as a result of a concert series that spontaneously grew into peaceful public demonstrations.
At one point in Estonia's path toward independence, the citizens create an alternate government intended to usurp power from the Soviet authority. The move works, but it angers the nearly one million Russians who moved into Estonia as part of the forced "Russification" program. They stage a revolt of their own and this one isn't so peaceful -- they storm the headquarters of the rival government.
Before the mob breaches the door, the fledgling Estonian authority issues a call for help, asking its citizens to show their support.
Within minutes, ordinary men and women begin surrounding the Russians, now trapped in the courtyard of the government building. As the Estonian group gets thicker, the Russians panic -- fearing the worst.
Watching the scene unfold, it's hard to imagine how things couldn't get bloody. Yet, miraculously, when asked to open a path for the Russians, the Estonians do so -- without pushing or throwing insults. Instead, they sing at them as they run the gauntlet to safety.
Estonia has proved you can fight the power without shedding a single drop of blood -- and on that score alone, we could all stand to learn more about a little country that found a great big voice.