This is a movie I had no idea even existed, much less was available on Netflix, until I saw that it was about to be removed. Having watched it, I see it remains available as part of the Amazon Prime offerings and so it remains available to we streaming viewers, at least for a bit more.
The film’s title comes from the Soviet name for their fight against the partisans in the Baltic States. It was so-called because, officially, no such resistance existed. According to the Russians, the anti-Soviet fighters hidden throughout the woods in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were nothing more than “bandits,” terrorizing the local populous.
The film, a documentary, is based primarily on the book Forest Brothers: The Account of an Anti-soviet Lithuanian Freedom Fighter, 1944-1948 by Juozas Lukša. Lukša escaped from Soviet occupied Lithuania, through Poland, and into the West twice. While there, he wrote the aforementioned memoir in an attempt to show the West what was happening behind the iron curtain.
From a purely technical standpoint, the documentary is decent, but not great. It consists of interview with those who knew Lukša, as well as a surprising amount of film and photographic items from his time in Lithuania and in the West. The importance of the film, however, is its subject, which is little told or known in this part of the world (and probably less so as time goes by). From that point of view, I’ve never seen another film like it. In this, it is a must-watch.