Fate of a Man (1959)
"Sudba cheloveka" (original title)

 |  Drama, War  |  12 April 1959 (Poland)
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The story of a man (Andrey Sokolov) whose life was ruthlessly crippled by World War II. His wife and daughters were killed during the bombing of his village, he spent some time as a ... See full summary »



(as Yu. Lukin) , (as F. Shakhmagonov) , 1 more credit »
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Credited cast:
Sergey Bondarchuk ...
Pavel Boriskin ...
Vanja (as Pavlik Boriskin)
Zinaida Kirienko ...
Pavel Volkov ...
Yuri Averin ...
Muller (as Yu. Averin)
Kirill Alekseyev ...
German Major
Pavel Vinnikov
Evgeniy Teterin
Anatoli Chemodurov
Lev Borisov
Georgi Shapovalov
Aleksandr Novikov ...
(as A. Novikov)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Nikolai Aparin ...
(as N. Aparin)
Vyacheslav Berezko ...
(as V. Beryozko)
Vladimir Ivanov


The story of a man (Andrey Sokolov) whose life was ruthlessly crippled by World War II. His wife and daughters were killed during the bombing of his village, he spent some time as a prisoner, and his only son was killed in action only a few days before the victory... Written by Boris Shafir <shafir@hsi.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | War


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Release Date:

12 April 1959 (Poland)  »

Also Known As:

Fate of a Man  »

Company Credits

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Sokolov: [Snaps to attention] Prisoner Sokolov reporting as ordered.
Muller: So four cubic meters is too much to quarry, eh?
Sokolov: It is, Commandant, far too much.
Muller: And you need only one cubic meter for your grave, right?
Sokolov: Yes, that's quite enough for a grave. Even there'd be room to spare.
Muller: I'm going to do you a great honor. I'll shoot you with my own pistol.
[Gesturing with his gun]
Muller: Let's go into the yard.
Sokolov: Whatever you say.
[Turns sharply about face]
See more »


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User Reviews

The Presence of the Past
31 October 2013 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

Sergey Bondarchuk is probably best known for his epic spectacle "War and Peace" (1966), and his outstanding feature debut "The Destiny of Man" (1959) was made in the same tradition of the war genre, though not in a similarly big fashion. Like many other Soviet war films made during the cultural thaw in Eastern Europe caused by the spirit of Geneva such as "The Cranes Are Flying" (1957) and "Ballad of a Soldier" (1959), "The Destiny of Man" focuses on the human experience in the bleak misery of war. It tells the story of an ordinary man who lost everything during a war that meant nothing to him.

The historical legacy and the poignantly present memory of the Second World War played an integral role in almost all of the Soviet films made during the cultural thaw. It is as though life itself was approached from this perspective. An entire generation was left alone with their problems to sink into oblivion in the era of Stalin's cult of personality. Not until the new political waves of the 1950's arrived were these people dealt properly in cinema.

"The Destiny of Man" cuts right to the memory of WWII as it begins from the first spring after the war. A man recalls his experiences during the war and ponders why life has mistreated him so in a long flashback. Bondarchuk's mobile camera fluently shifts to the past -- the memory -- revealing its reality before our eyes. His style is very modern, as is the case with other films from this period, born from dynamic movement, montage and intensity of close-ups. Accompanied by an astonishing soundtrack with nearly surreal tones and a great score by Venyamin Basner, this poetic voyage to the days gone by touches our very core.

The film was made in the same year with Masaki Kobayashi's masterful trilogy "The Human Condition" (1959-1962) which also highlights the experience and moral disappointment of an individual in times of immeasurable brutality. "The Destiny of Man" also includes a sequence taking place in a POW camp where the prisoners are forced to work, thus inevitably triggering an association with the first part of Kobayashi's trilogy. A perceptive spectator (or an obsessive fan of Kobayashi) might even observe a shot bearing a striking resemblance to the iconic image of workers walking up the hill.

What makes "The Destiny of Man" to stand the test of time and lifts it up to the same level with "The Cranes Are Flying" and "Ballad of a Soldier" is its profoundness. It is not a profoundness achieved simply by story, but by form. This can be seen in the film's aesthetics which is tremendously rich of tone and meaning. Bondarchuk truly achieves to depict the complexity of human experience and historical conditions. The cinematic repertoire of the image, the scenes and even entire sequences extends from the brief vibrations of the dramatic surface to the aesthetic profoundness of human existence.

4 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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