Friday, December 14, 2007

Ballada o soldate (Grigori Chukhrai, 1959) aka Ballad of a Soldier

Ballad of a Soldier (Grigori Chukhrai, 1959)
Rating: 7.5

Ballad of a soldier is a simple tale about a 19 year old hero during WWII who trades his medal in for a chance to take leave and see his mother. On his return trip home he meets and touches the lives of several civilians he meets along the way and even manages to fall in love. My major problem with the film is Alyosha is basically perfect in every way. So much so that he seems more like a caricature than an actual human being. Never-the-less the the film is an enjoyable attempt at individualizing the soldier and humanizing war. After following the path of this young man for several days and seeing his kind youthful spirit, his death which we are foretold of in the opening scene becomes much more tragic rather than just another statistic. The climactic scene when he hugs his mother is very moving. The editing is a little rough in spots, but the shot compositions and overall cinematography are lovely.

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