Friday, 16 September 2011

Rezo Chkheidze: Father of a Soldier - Отец солдата (1964)

Director: Rezo Chkheidze
Writer: Suliko Jgenti (screenplay)
Stars: Sergo Zaqariadze, Vladimir Privaltsev, Aleksandr Nazarov

A tremendous achievement of Soviet cinema, very much in the style of silent Soviet cinema, Father of a Soldier (Georgian title: Djariskatsis mama*; Russian title: Otyets soldata) is a humanistic tragicomedy about war. Therefore, it may also have been influenced by Mario Monicelli’s The Great War (1959), which shared the Golden Lion of St. Mark at Venice with a far less antic film about war, Roberto Rossellini’s General della Rovere (1959). Written by Suliko Zhgenti and directed by Rezo Chkheidze, two names with which I am unfamiliar, Father of a Soldier is a behavorial comedy in the midst of combat; it is warm, humorous, humane, piercing. Its heart is keyed to that of its protagonist, Georgy Makharashvili, an aging Georgian farmer who ventures beyond his rural village in search of his son, Goderdzi, a tankman and army lieutenant during World War II who has written home that he has been wounded. Goderdzi’s mother tells her husband just before his departure: Do not come back without our son! The man’s odyssey takes him into battle, into war’s heart of darkness. Along the way, he also dons a uniform to become a soldier—and a good thing, too; for it is in Berlin, at its fall, that he reunites with his son. Briefly. Goderdzi, freshly wounded, dies with Georgy by his side. ...

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