Ballad of a Soldier

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93%

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Total Count: 15

93%

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Movie Info

A young Russian soldier is awarded a four day pass after destroying two enemy tanks. He plans to visit his mother and fix her roof, but a series of events underscoring the hopeless destruction of war limits his visit to a few minutes. The young soldier is disillusioned at the rampant infidelity displayed by fun-loving wives while their husbands engage in deadly combat to protect home and country.

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Critic Reviews for Ballad of a Soldier

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for Ballad of a Soldier

  • Nov 20, 2010
    A lovely, heartbreaking, somewhat episodic film about the travels of a young Russian soldier who's given a short leave to go home and see his mother. During the erratic journey back to his village, he meets an innocent farm girl and awkwardly falls in love. Beautiful cinematography, affecting leads.
    Eric B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 01, 2009
    A beautifully-made film from Russia. As a reward for a heroic deed in battle, a young soldier receives six days leave to go home to see his mother. The rest of the film follows him as he tries to make it home and back in the allotted time. For part of his journey, he sneaks aboard a boxcar, and then later a pretty young girl does the same. You can take it from there...up to a point. Like many Russian films, the faces are the main focus. The lighting of this film was particularly impressive, and every face seems to glow from within. There are some very interesting camera angles, especially in the early battle scenes, but also the shots of and from the train. Even the musical score was beautful and dreamy. The only flaw I found in the film was the heavy-handed sentimentality. You can show depth of feeling without being melodramatic about it. Otherwise, this is a touching and beautiful film.
    Cindy I Super Reviewer
  • Jun 27, 2009
    <i>He could have become a remarkable man. He could have become a builder or beautified the land with gardens. He was, and in our memory will forever remain, a soldier... a Russian soldier.</i> <CENTER><u>BALLADA O SOLDATE (1959)</u></CENTER> <b>Director:</b> Grigori Chukhrai <b>Country:</b> Soviet Union <b>Genre:</b> Drama / Romance / War <b>Length:</b> 89 minutes <CENTER><a href="http://s712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/?action=view¤t=BalladaoSoldate.jpg" target="_blank"><img src="http://i712.photobucket.com/albums/ww125/ElCochran90/BalladaoSoldate.jpg" border="0" alt="Soviet,Union,war,1959,Grigori,Chukhrai"></a></CENTER> Three years before Andrei Tarkovsky made his first feature film <i>Ivanovo Detstvo</i> (1962) and became one of the most extraordinary directors of all time, war veteran Grigori Chukhrai wrote and directed a memorable and considerably beloved anti-war statement called <i>Ballada o Soldate</i>. This beautiful cinematographic achievement was basically one of the first films that accurately portrayed the human side of people that were involved in the war and the cataclysmic aftermath caused in an environment surrounded by hopelessness and chaos. This remarkably respected and revolutionary war masterpiece is set on the times of World War II and opens on the Russian battlefront against the Germans where a young nineteen-year-old Russian soldier defeats two German tanks single-handedly. His name is Alyosha Skvortsov. As a reward for his heroic act, the Comrade General offers him a medal of honor. However, he rejects the medal and asks for a few days leave so he can visit his mother after receiving a letter from her, so he can fix the leaking roof of their home. While travelling on the train eastwards he meets a beautiful young teenager named Shura who is on her way to her aunt, and later on, they fall in love. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen in 1962, an award that lost against <i>Splendor in the Grass</i> (1961) and that should have lost against Federico Fellini's <i>La Dolce Vita</i> (1960). It was also nominated for the Golden Palm in the Cannes Film Festival in 1960 which lost against Federico Fellini's <i>La Dolce Vita</i> (1960). Every single aspect of <i>Ballada o Soldate</i> is adequately taken care of. The cinematography department did the most outstanding and meaningful work for the film, which highly helped to contrast the horrors of war reflected in a young soldier with the beauty of life itself. The film lacks of audacious and dazzling camera movement, and relies on the fact that images can speak for themselves, even when they are standing still, just like an expertly photographed image. The script written by Grigori Chukhrai and Valentin Ezhov is excellent, since it does not only succeeds at creating a charming pace for the film, but also tries to tell several different short stories that add a lot of catastrophic atmosphere to the film, while Alyosha meets various characters with distinct funny anecdotes and heartbreaking personal tragedies, representing the Soviet society as a whole, a whole that has just started to enter into its downfall. The performances were extraordinary. While Vladimir Ivashov portrayed a very complete and inspiring character, Antonina Maksimova, who played the mother of Alyusha, unconsciously performed the broken heart of the entire nation that was involved in an inevitable historical sequence of events: World War II. Zhanna Prokhorenko was a right choice for the role of Shura, not only because of its great acting talent, but also because of her shocking and natural European beauty, an element that is not treated as a cinema stereotype. In a cinematic world of patriotism and action-oriented war films, <i>Ballada o Soldate</i> awarded those courageous living and deceased persons who gave their lives in the front for their countries. It was also one of the most convincing and heartwarming social commentaries expressing that the worst enemy against any soldier is not the opposite side, like the Germans in this case, who are normally the bad guys in most of the World War II films that are made, but war itself. The senselessness and devastating power of war can reach catastrophic measures, and <i>Ballada o Soldate</i> effectively manages to represent that idea as a dramatic statement against war instead of resorting to overdramatic and monotonous patriotism. Alyosha, who is a loyal, dedicate, timid and brave Russian young man, but undeniably kind and trustworthy, is the most accurate and reliable personification of a dedicate soldier, a person who has been forced by fate to serve for the nation facing the most brutal and dreadful fears known to man, which directly emanate from war, causing desperation and loneliness. Two of the most predominant and frequented topics are contrastingly treated: war and love. Just like in Chukhrai's previous film, <i>Sorok Pervyy</i> (1956), a female Red Army sniper ends up falling in love with a White Army officer, love is found outside the field this time. The whole movie is presented as an inevitable past that was meant to happen because of destiny's force and control over our lives, and the capacity of our soul and conscience to accept the unpredictable outcomes. Loose ends are left, clearly supporting a reality: life goes on, just like the respective paths of Alyosha, Shura, Alyosha's mother, the veteran that lost one leg and, temporarily, the love of his life, and the rest of the characters should. Faith and hope die with the body. Chukhrai's most personal cinematic work of art owed most of its credit to the loyal representation of the soul of man and the strength of the spirit, and steps away from the genre of war itself, turning into a romantic story. Its visual imagery, which reaches a documentary style at some points, is utterly poetic and beautiful, and the first stunningly peaceful sequence featuring a sad and desolate mother with which the movie begins offers a very clear and overwhelming introduction to the events the viewer is about to witness, considering the narrative voiceover, which also concludes the story. Then, the narrative structure resorts to a flashback. In my own personal opinion, that was a very effective strategy that satisfyingly fulfilled its task. The rejection of honor and patriotism, concepts that are irrevocably relative, fortify the main ideas of the film, which focus mainly on the prioritized aspects of life: happiness, family and love. <i>Ballada o Soldate</i> is definitely one of the most groundbreaking war films of all time, and certainly the most remembered and cheered project in nowadays Russia. Strengthening the ideas that Grigori Chukhrai first stated in <i>Sorok Pervyy</i> (1956), <i>Ballada o Soldate</i> offers the viewer a moving and surprisingly peaceful dazzling experience, and ends up being a requiem for the soul. War veterans came to be very proud of such an inspirational homage to their eternal efforts and bravery, and cinema came to be very proud because of having a purely innocent and tender gem. Unique within its genre, especially for its time, one more Soviet masterwork will be frequently remembered whenever the topic of "best movies ever made" is treated around the globe. 100/100
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Mar 29, 2009
    Such a touching story. This was so well told and finding out what happnes to the young soldier in the begining of the movie, makes this even more touching. I really enjoyed how well told and how well acted this movie was.
    Ken D Super Reviewer

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