Ballad Of A Soldier Movie Review
Ballad of a Soldier earned international acclaim during its 1959 release but was beloved nowhere more than in its homeland of Russia. It's easy to see why. Alyosha's (Vladimir Ivashov) journey has all the makings of high adventure, drama, and romance. He has to bribe a fellow soldier just to hop a train to his village, but he also finds solace in the arms of a fellow hitchhiker, Shura (Zhanna Prokhorenko), though it is all too fleeting. At times, it looks like the simple trip home to mom will never be completed.
Grigori Chukhrai's Ballad is a small movie, but it's also powerful and one of the best examinations of the Russian WWII experience from a soldier and civilian point of view. Alyosha's world is driven by the little things -- hunting for water, the search for companionship, however fleeting. Its love story is tender and sweet, and it must have captivated Russians the way Titanic grabbed American audiences in our era. (Yeah, I realize that's a rough analogy, but you get the drift.)
The direction and cinematography are fantastic, overcoming the limitations of the story, and Ivashov and Prokhorenko's performances are perfectly crafted insights into the Russian mindset of its era. The new Criterion DVD enhances all of these things, and while the extras are spare, it's a movie that honestly doesn't need them. Fabulous.
Aka Ballada o soldate.