Ballad of a Soldier (1959)

One of those films that drifts along, seemingly satisfied with being a gentle humanist observation of human behaviour in trying conditions. As such, it can be a little clunky at times – such as the initial meeting between the young soldier on his way home on leave and the girl on her way to see her fiance, which is awkwardly staged and rather broadly performed by the otherwise winning actors – and lacking in a genuinely cohesive artistic vision.

But the there are little moments that make the journey worthwhile – the soldiers in the train car sharing cigarettes and joking about our heroes exploits, and the galvanizing effect that has on an injured, self-pitying soldier along for the ride; the hardening of a the expression when it becomes obvious a wife left at home hasn’t been just waiting around for her husband to return – and the destination is remarkably affecting, casting the previous 80 minutes in a more positive light.

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