International Movie Review: Ballad of a Solider

It’s not everyday we Americans support Russian cinema, but as a die-hard fan of war/guerilla-warfare/geopolitical struggle movies, I simply could not pass this one up(besides, I have no beef w/ Russia!). I happened across this film this past summer out of my desire to familiarize myself with a culture that I felt I had marginalized in my own mind and through my ( K-12) education – Western Europe is all that matters and Eastern Europe did not come up unless they were villains. Being touted as a masterpeice of Russian film, Ballad of a Soldier was bound to come up in my search.

Without spoiling things too much, this film is essentially about a young Russian soldier, Alyosha, fighting amidst the Second World War who, because of an act of valor, is given a 48 hour furlough. The film, then, follows what Alyosha uses this time to do as he attempts to make his way back home to his home village to see his mother. From the romance he encounters, to sending certain messages back on behalf of his fellow platoon members, this film is sure to take its viewers on an emotional roller coaster!

One of the reasons why this film is so highly praised by many ( if not, the MAIN reason), is because of how skillfully and artistically the film illustrates the personal side/effects of war. All too often, we see many films that, whether knowingly or unknowingly (though I’d tend to think the former..) glorify the corporate violence and attacks that are imparted between any two (or more!) factions in war. The rapid gunshots, the glorious explosions, the clear “good guys vs. bad guys” dichotomy – ya know, all that’s characteristic of most war movies is considerably downplayed, if not down right forsaken in this film. Grigori Chukhrai (the director of this film) , makes the personal, deeper-dimensioned moments that Alyosha experiences more glorious, more real, and more appealing than the violence that’s portrayed in the film! Chukhrai gave us a masterpiece of a film that illustrates the destructive, hellish, love-void reality of war in a way that is sure to stick with all who see – many report not being able to watch this film without crying! Just check the IMDB!

Chukhrai’s Ballad of a Solider is short yet hard-hitting, “violent” yet peaceful, angsty yet tear-jerking and for that I give this film a 4.5/5 stars!! Highly recommend it – but make sure you have a box of tissues by your side ;)

There’s no real trailer for the film, but here’s a clip that’s about 8 min. long from the movie – you can watch the whole thing for free on youtube!

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