Monday, April 21, 2008

Баллада о солдате (Ballad Of A Soldier)

I just saw this fabulous 1959 Russian film about a World War II soldier. Director Grigory Chukhrai won the 1960 Cannes award for best direction for this film.
The main character Alyosha Skvortsov's life, and the life of people he meets in the movie is a story of possibilities:

- possibility of being killed by enemy tanks (in the opening scene)
- possibility of finding Vasya's (the invalid) wife waiting for him
- possibility of winning Shura's friendship
- possibility of seeing his mother before his official six day leave is exhausted
- possibility of patching up the roof of his mother's house
- possibility of returning back alive from the war (the ending)

Some of these possibilities get fulfilled (thereby keeping us as believers while the end of others just remains unknown to us). Besides the great plot the film has superb direction, cinematography and music which render it is a classic B&W masterpiece. Nineteen year old Alyosha's life seems to mirror everything that is right even during the tragic war - he is a brave soldier, an honest man and a devoted son.

My Moment Of Zen - The dusty, curvy road which marks the beginning and end of story is a haunting visual. To me it signifies the life of the soldier, the wait of the mother and the beloved, and over and above the choices we as individuals (and nations) make and how these choices impact others.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"Ballad of a Soldier" so upset Communist censors that they tried to revoke Mr. Chukhrai's own membership in the party -- in large part, Mr. Chukhrai later said, because of such minor transgressions as the depiction of an unfaithful wife in an era when adultery among Soviet women officially did not exist.
Despite his conflicts with the party establishment, Mr. Chukhrai remained a party member to his death, balancing criticisms of the Soviet system's cruelty with praise for its industrial and social accomplishments.

~Michael Wines, in New York Times Obituary of Grigory Chukhrai, October 30,2001