Young Russian soldier Alyosha earns a medal, but asks to visit his mother instead. His journey recounts various kinds of love during wartime.Young Russian soldier Alyosha earns a medal, but asks to visit his mother instead. His journey recounts various kinds of love during wartime.Young Russian soldier Alyosha earns a medal, but asks to visit his mother instead. His journey recounts various kinds of love during wartime.
We learn early through the narration that this soldier did not survive the war so his journey home to visit his mother for one last time becomes all the more poignant. The film, however, is not about a destination but about a journey. The four-day trip encompasses a lifetime of experience. Before hiding out in a freight car, Alyosha encourages a soldier (Yevgeny Urbansky) who has lost his leg to go home to his wife. Along the way, he hitches a ride on a rain-soaked road with a woman deprived of sleep for 48 hours. He brings a present of soap to an unfaithful wife of another soldier but changes his mind and gives it to her father who longs for his son's return. He also meets Shura (Zhanna Prokhorenko), a radiant young woman who, like him, hides out in a freight car. Reluctant at first and fearful of Alyosha, the young couple experiences their first love in several sensitive scenes but it is to be short-lived.
Ballad of a Soldier, of course, aims to present Russian soldiers in the best possible light yet Chukhraj does not hesitate to show his characters as real human beings with flaws. A venal security guard is willing to grant the young soldier free passage in a freight car in exchange for cans of beef, and the wife of a soldier is unfaithful to her soldier husband, a sequence that landed the director in trouble with the Russian censors. In Alyosha, Chukhraj has created a good person: kind, loving, and noble but not larger than life, a soldier perhaps typical of millions of young men who gave their lives to protect their homeland. Their struggle and personal sacrifice has been immortalized in a great film.
- Dec 27, 2004