Ballad of a Soldier is a moving and heartbreaking film. A young soldier Private Aloysha is on the eastern front becomes a hero when he knocks out two German Panzer Tanks. His commanding officer awards him a medal for bravery but Aloysha declines the medal and instead wishes to go back home for a few days. On his week of leave, the soldier encounters new troops heading out to the front, the ravages of War affecting the citizens and the wounded and maim soldiers going home. Since he's far from home, he has to ride a series of trains to try and make it home. When Aloysha left he never had a chance to really say good bye to his mother or family. During his travels he meets Shura a peasant girl who stows away inside the same box car he's hiding in and the two fall in love with each other. By the time he eventually makes it home he can only stay for a few minutes before he's off again. The mother runs off to the roadside to see him off and waits for him to return but sadly he never will.
The actors who played Aloysha and Shura were only 19 at the time. The director went with the young leads and they helped make the movie what it is today, a true war time classic. I was impressed with their acting because they made the roles seem authentic and true life. I am glad the filmmakers decided not to use older actors because it would have taken away what makes this film so enjoyable. Realism and drama at it's finest. Aloysha has an aura of innocence and optimism, he's a bright shining light in a world ravaged by war. Shura embodies another kind of innocence in that she too is filled with hope and her natural beauty and personality empowers Aloysha through the long journey back home. All in all a terrific film and one of the best I have seen in awhile.