Wednesday, August 15, 2007


I'm trying to cover as many of the multiple summer programs at AFI's Silver Theater* as possible while I'm still in this country. Look at today's date. I'm only here for an estimated two months and three days. How terrifying is that? The first movie I saw yesterday in Silver Spring was Grigori Chukhrai's WWII-area battlefield drifter epic Ballad of A Soldier (Ballada o soldate, 1959),* the very first iron curtain war movie I've seen, though produced during a second-thoughts generation of less glorified bombast--referred to as the "thaw era"--that took into account smaller themes of humanity and personal loss in the face Russia's then recent victory. Near the beginning of the film, army Private Alyosha suddenly becomes the only survivor of a German tank advance, stumbling into an abandoned fortification that just happens to be equipped with an anti-tank rifle that just happens to be equipped with armor piercing explosive rounds. A few minutes later Alyosha is a hero, refusing decoration for the preferred reward of leave to return home and fix the roof on his mother's home. The majority of the remaining runtime is dedicated to the hassles of his epic road trip. Alyosha hops trains and hitches rides, through rain and mud. In one hay car, while hiding from a commanding officer, Alyosha runs into a beautiful Slavic girl who is also making her way home. In every scene, he is thrust into situations in which he can exercise his unabashed and sentimental humanity. But if the whims of fate seem unbelievably kind to the soldier at times, we've known from the opening narration that they will run out--if indeed this whole story doesn't solely exist in the imagination of a mother whose son marched down the road one day, never to return. [Cavin]

Then, a 0 sided conversation ensued...

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