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Nov 14, 2003

Ballad Of A Soldier 

Grigori Chukrai's Russian movie, Ballad of a Soldier is a timeless masterpiece. Here I was in 2003, watching a movie made in 1959 in post war USSR, checking again and again on the DVD cover whether this movie was actually made in 1959 or shot in black and white in 1999 or 1989 or so? There is a certain finesse, a certain element in the movie that I cannot discern which makes it timeless, you cannot see the the dramatic acting often seen in forties and fifties movies, you cannot see the abrupt jerky shots and actions characteristic of pre-war movies and there are not many style statements which stamp the movie as belonging to one era or another.

Its WW2 and Alyosha Skcortsov is a nineteen year old Russian soldier who is granted a visit to his mother after he singlehandedly fends off two enemy tanks. We follow Alyosha and his life during those few days of his journey to his home, through a war torn country, through loves lost and found, through demolition and strife, through hope and despair in the lives of people he pass through and finally he reaches home with just enough time to hug his mother and get back to the battle field. Ballad of a Soldier doesnot entrust its fame on the young shoulders of a brave teenage soldier but rather creates a poignant visual poem with him as the symbol of life, innocence, youth, love and hope, in a time which desperately needed all of these.

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