Directed by Sergei Bondarchuk
Starring Sergei Bondarchuk, Pavel Boriskin, Zinaida Kiriyenko.
Grand Prix at the International Film Festival in Moscow in 1959
Grand Prix at the X International Film Festival in Czechoslovakia
Grand Prix at the Film Festival in Minsk in 1960
The main prize «Crystal Vase»
Prizes at the International Film Festival in Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra
Prize at the XII International Film Festival in Karlovy Vary 1970
Best known today for War and Peace (a four-part, epic masterwork that was as ambitious in the 1960s as Abel Gance’s Napoleon was in the 1920s), Sergei Bondarchuk made his directorial debut, Destiny of a Man, in 1959. He stars as a war-weary Soviet soldier at the close of the Second World War, who, having survived a Nazi concentration camp, clinging to the hope that he will be reunited with his family, learns at war’s end that his wife and children have been killed. The scene in which he adopts a forlorn, orphaned boy – telling him that he is his long-sought father, which he clearly is not – is one of the loveliest moments in postwar cinema. This melancholy hymn to the human spirit, based on the novel by Mikhail Sholokhov, became a spectacular, worldwide hit. Together with Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes Are Flying (1957) and Grigori Chukhrai’s Ballad of a Soldier (1959), it began a great humanist tradition in Soviet cinema, and marked out Bondarchuk, along with Andrei Tarkovsky, as the spiritual and artistic heir to Sergei Eisenstein, Vsevolod Pudovkin, and Aleksandr Dovzhenko.