Credit needs to be given at the outset to Jim Lochner and his FilmScore ClickTrack piece “9 On The 9th” from November 2010. On that day he selected nine favourite foreign film scores and at number one of his list was Mikhail Ziv’s score to Ballad of A Soldier. Both Grigori Chukhrai’s 1959 film and Mikhail Ziv as a film composer were entirely new to me, but after doing a bit of research and following the links Jim provided find Ziv’s music, I am now writing this review echoing his original high recommendation.
Ballad of A Soldier is a 1959 award-winning Soviet film set during World War II – but is not really a war film. At its heart, it is a film of two love stories – 1) a story of the blossoming attraction between a soldier returning from the front and a stowaway he meets on a train on his journey home and 2) the love between a mother and her son (the soldier). Our accidental hero, rather than accepting a commendation for destroying some German tanks, asks for leave so that he can return home to see his mother (and fix the roof of her house). The film then follows his journey and the people he encounters along the way (including the pretty girl who he finds himself becoming increasingly attracted to). Russian composer Mikhail Ziv composes a score that ignores the usual war movie film score staples of being brass-heavy and full of marches. Ballad of A Soldier‘s score is one that is thematic and contains poignant and emotional music – in keeping with the director’s emphasis on the human stories of how war affects the ordinary person (as well as focusing on the foolishness of war).
All that is available of Ziv’s score is a 20-minute suite of music played by the Russian State Symphony Cinema Orchestra, conducted by Sergei Skripka. But this suite is ample to conclude that the music is film scoring of high quality. Read the rest of this entry »