Ballad of a Soldier - DVD review (4 stars)

Ballad of a Soldier

(PG) 89min (Nouveaux Pictures DVD retail)


This long overdue DVD release of Grigori Chukhrai’s 1959 anti-war film arrives thankfully clear of the hideous dubbing that so marred previous incarnations of the film. It is not difficult to see why Chukhrai’s film picked up the Palme d’Or at the 1960 Cannes Film Festival, and Bafta Award for Best Film in 1961. This deceptively simple tale of one heroic young Russian soldier’s journey home during WWII, during which he witnesses the genuine hardships brought about by the war on ordinary Russians, is as subtle as it is moving. Love also enters the frame for 19-year-old Alyosha (Vladimir Ivashov) when he meets beautiful young girl Shura (Zhana Prokhorenko), with whom he falls in love.

This little-seen gem of a film boasts a powerful and emotive script and superbly stark black and white photography which often seems to control the excellent performances of all concerned. Extras include an interview with director Chukhrai, a photo gallery, filmographies, the original trailer and, for masochists, a dubbed version of the film.

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