Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: Ballada O Soldate
USSR, 1959. Mosfilm. Screenplay by Grigoriy Chukhray, Valentin Ezhov. Cinematography by Vladimir Nikolayev, Era Savelyeva. Produced by M. Chenova. Music by Mikhail Ziv. Production Design by Boris Nemechek. Costume Design by Lyudmila Ryashentseva. Film Editing by Mariya Timofeeva.
Despite a few moments that strain the effort to jerk your tears, this is a heartfelt film that packs more than a few emotional punches. A Russian World War II soldier scores a double header when he takes out two tanks in a freak act of bravery and is awarded with a decoration. Rather than accept it from his commanding officer, he insists that he would rather be given leave to go to his village and see his mother for a few days. The journey home ends up being fraught with distractions, diversions and even a few dangers, giving the soldier a close-up view of the war-scarred landscape of his nation, gradually eroding his naive existence. Magnificently shot, with a smooth, even pace and solid performances from the entire ensemble cast.
The Criterion Collection: #148
Academy Award Nomination: Best Original Story and Screenplay
Cannes Film Festival: In Competition