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Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Ballad of a Soldier. (spoilers)

I love this film. It's a Soviet classic from the 1950's. The movie is about a young soldier named Alexei who was given a few days to go see his mother before resuming his duties at the front. This charming, soft-hearted peasant boy had just shot down two German tanks and was rewarded by the General for his heroic efforts. Instead of accepting a decoration, Alexei pleads with the General to let him see his mother for just one day (she had sent him a letter, mentioning their roof was leaking). He tells the General that he only wishes to fix his mother's roof. Touched by his innocence, the General grants him a six-day leave. On his journey, he meets an older soldier whose leg was amputated after being wounded in the war; This deformity makes the veteran hesitant about being re-united with his beautiful young wife (he feels ashamed and would rather find himself lost in Russia). Further along the young soldier's journey, he meets a young woman named Shura. They discover each other in a train carrying hay for horses. Once the awkwardness between them vanish, a bond encapsules them both in a bittersweet twist of fate.

During a quick stop, Alexei leaves the train to fetch a pail of water. Shura is by herself in the train, and falls asleep from exhaustion. When Alexei finally makes his way back to the train (he stops quickly to join a group of workers who are listening to a radio broadcast about the status of the war), he finds out that it has already left.

He is later reunited with Shura (she leaves the train to wait for him at a station). They try to find the home of Alexei's friend, a soldier who is still fighting at the front, to give his friend's wife the only present available from the front: two bars of soap. But Alexei soon discovers that she is now living with another man, and he snatches the soap back and leaves (he gives it to his friend's ailing father instead).

His journey is coming to a close. Before he could tell Shura that he loves her, he parts with her at a train station (they never kiss, which makes it more heartbreaking). He jumps aboard the moving train and shouts to Shura the name of the town he lives in- she can find him there after the war. But she is unable to hear him due to the noise of the crowd and the train's engine. She is seen trying to tell him something, but the train moves at quick speed and he is unable to hear her say that she loves him.
By the time he reaches his mother, he only has enough time to kiss her goodbye and give her the handkerchief he had bought for her. Before he leaves, he asks his mother to forgive him (perhaps for breaking her heart by leaving so soon?). He takes the same road that took him to the front, the same road that will take him to death.

It broke my heart when his mother began to ask him such heartbreaking questions, such as... had he already begun to shave? And did he smoke? He was only nineteen when he died.
Anyway I'm going to watch Nicholas and Alexandra now. I sooo love the tsarist era of Russia.

Photos source:Click here. And here is a better review of the film.