Ballad of a Soldier [Criterion Collection] [DVD] [1960]

Visually stunning and emotionally gripping, Grigori Chukhrai's poetic masterpiece Ballad of a Soldier has been given an equally important release from the Criterion Collection. The film's brilliant black-and-white cinematography has been given an excellent digital upgrade, as has the Russian-language soundtrack. The image is consistently clear and sharp, with very little grain visible. The mono soundtrack (with optional English-language subtitles) occasionally shows its age, but it is nevertheless in excellent shape. The disc also contains some fantastic radio interviews from the New York preview screening in 1960 with director Chukhrai and stars Vladimir Ivashov and Zhanna Prokhorenko. The three separate interviews are fascinating, and occasionally heated (specifically Chukhrai's agitated manner in response to some of the questions he's being asked). The disc also contains a lengthy and worthwhile essay included in the keep-case. Although Russia's greatest cinematic antiwar testament remains Elem Klimov's devastating 1985 film Come and See, Ballad of a Soldier should be at the top of your must-see world cinema list.
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Overview

Special Features

  • New digital transfer, with restored image and sound
  • Audio interview with director/co-screenwriter Grigori Chukhrai and stars Vladimir Ivashov and Zhanna Prokhorenko, conducted after a preview screening in New York
  • New and improved English subtitle translation

Synopsis

Ballad of a Soldier
The award-winning Ballad of a Soldier was the first Russian film to score an American success during the Cold War era. It is a relatively simple, uncomplicated story of a callow young Russian conscript (Vladimir Ivashov) who yearns for home and hearth during World War II. Unfortunately, only those who have committed a conspicuously heroic act are being honored with liberty. Almost in spite of himself, the boy becomes a battlefield hero, and as a result is allowed to visit his family. En route to his home, the boy uses up much of his valuable leave time through his efforts to help others. He finally gets to see his mother for a few precious moments before being called back to active duty. At the risk of sounding snobbish, we advise that you see Ballad of a Soldier in a subtitled print. The English-dubbed version borders on the ridiculous, with everyone talking in stilted sentences that sound like Soviet Damon Runyon. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Vladimir Ivashov
    Vladimir Ivashov - Alyosha
  • Zhanna Prokhorenko
    Zhanna Prokhorenko - Shura
  • Antonina Maksimova
    Antonina Maksimova - Alyosha's mother
  • Image coming soon
    Nikolai Kryuchkov - General
  • Image coming soon
    Yevgeny Urbansky - Invalid
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