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Bishops Castle Film Society

Ballad of a Soldier - 5th February 2019

Ballad of a Soldier, Gregoriy Chukrai,
USSR, 1959, 88 mins

Set during the Second World War Ballad of a Soldier is not primarily a war film. Between a war film, road movie, and love story, it shows us how war kills everything - the eternal tragedy, the radiant flower in full bloom getting cut off at the stem, presented with gentleness.
This is a jewel of a film with a big heart and terrific storytelling.The opening scene tells you about a 19 year old soldier, Alyosha, who never made it back from the war, except for one brief trip to see his mother. The rest of the film shows you how our soldier was able to make that maternal visit, and all the adventures he had on the way.



Grigori Chukhrai wrote and directed a memorable and considerably beloved anti-war statement called Ballad of a Soldier (Ballada o Soldate).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 …
Edgar Cochran, Letterboxed, July 2013

Made towards the end of Khruschev's "thaw", when artists were allowed out on a looser rein, the film depicts an accidental hero: a somewhat gormless, naive, gawky country boy drafted into the front line. His bravery is momentary and reflexive but wins him a coveted spot of leave. (The Red Army did not give its soldiers any time off in the ordinary way.) He tries to get back to his home village long enough to put a new roof on his mother's shack of a house, but is delayed en route, and has time only to greet her and say goodbye before returning to duty … There is no Communist preaching to speak of, and significantly the spoken narrative over the sky at the end says: "He would have been a fine man... but we remember him just as a soldier- a Russian soldier." Not as a Bolshevik comrade, not as a freedom-fighter against fascism: the film is true to the truth of the "Great Patriotic War", in which millions of Alyoshas fought and died for their patch of earth, not for ideology or Stalin.
Viewer review, IMDB, March 2002.




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