The award-winning Ballad of a Soldier was the first Russian film to score an American success during the Cold War era. It is a relatively simple, uncomplicated story of a callow young Russian conscript (Vladimir Ivashov) who yearns for home and hearth during World War II. Unfortunately, only those who have committed a conspicuously heroic act are being honored with liberty. Almost in spite of himself, the boy becomes a battlefield hero, and as a result is allowed to visit his family. En route to his home, the boy uses up much of his valuable leave time through his efforts to help others. He finally gets to see his mother for a few precious moments before being called back to active duty. At the risk of sounding snobbish, we advise that you see Ballad of a Soldier in a subtitled print. The English-dubbed version borders on the ridiculous, with everyone talking in stilted sentences that sound like Soviet Damon Runyon.
by Hal Erickson synopsis