8.2/10
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62 user 40 critic

Ballad of a Soldier (1959)

Ballada o soldate (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, War | 26 December 1960 (USA)
Young Russian soldier Alyosha earns a medal, but asks to visit his mother instead. His journey recounts various kinds of love during wartime.

Director:

Grigoriy Chukhray

Writers:

Grigoriy Chukhray (as G. Chukhraj), Valentin Ezhov (as V. Yezhov)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vladimir Ivashov ... Pvt. Alyosha Skvortsov (as Volodya Ivashov)
Zhanna Prokhorenko ... Shura
Antonina Maksimova ... The mother
Nikolay Kryuchkov ... The general
Evgeniy Urbanskiy ... Vasya (the invalid)
Elza Lezhdey ... The invalid's wife (as E. Lezhdej)
Aleksandr Kuznetsov ... Gavrilkin (the train sentry) (as A. Kuznetsov)
Evgeniy Teterin ... The lieutenant ('A terrible beast') (as Ye. Teterin)
Valentina Markova Valentina Markova ... Liza (Pavlov's wife) (as V. Markova)
Marina Kremnyova ... Zoya (neighbor girl) (as M. Kremnnyova)
Vladimir Pokrovskiy ... Pavlov's invalid father (as V. Pokrovsky)
Georgiy Yumatov ... Sergeant giving bars of soap (as G. Yumatov)
Gennadiy Yukhtin ... Pvt. Seryozha Pavlov (as G. Yukhtin)
Valentina Telegina ... Old woman truck driver (as V. Telegina)
Lev Borisov ... Joking soldier on train (as L. Borisov)
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Storyline

During World War II, 19 year old soldier Alyosha gets a medal as a reward for a heroic act at the front. Instead of this medal he asks for a few days leave to visit his mother and repair the roof of their home. On the train eastwards he meets Shura who is on her way to her aunt. In those few days traveling together they fall in love. Written by Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Critics All Agree It's Great...And So Will You! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

Soviet Union

Language:

Russian

Release Date:

26 December 1960 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ballad of a Soldier See more »

Filming Locations:

Moscow, Russia See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mosfilm See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film has a 100% rating based on 12 critic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. See more »

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User Reviews

Rare evocation of history's worst war on the home front
24 March 2002 | by OctSee all my reviews

In connection with the cinema's 100th anniversary, the BBC invited a number of celebrities to choose personal favourites. Michael Douglas picked this neglected Soviet-era classic, thus making full amends for his choice of knitwear in the 'Basic Instinct' disco scene.

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 and death.

Alyosha is swimming against the tide. The Soviets are pushing forward, pushing the Germans out of their land, but he encounters more chaos, misery and stoic endurance than jubilation: a one-legged veteran who fears his wife will spurn him, a mother driving a lorry whose son was killed, a surly rear-echelon private who tries to kick him off the train on which he and his equally shy girlfriend have bummed a ride. The atmosphere of disruption, of thousands of lives turned upside down, is brilliantly accumulated by such cameos with hardly any actual 'action'.

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.

Chukhrai's later movies have not been seen widely in the West. They should be.


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