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Film / Father of a Soldier

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Father of a Soldier is a 1964 film from the Soviet Union directed by Revaz Chkheidze.

It was actually a production of the then-Soviet republic of Georgia. The story opens in the summer of 1942, a year into the Great Patriotic War. Giorgi Makharashvili is a Georgian farmer who is pushing sixty. His son, Goderdzi, is a tank man with the Red Army. When Giorgi gets word that Goderzi is wounded, he rushes off to the hospital with presents for his son.

Giorgi manages to struggle through the chaotic transport situation of the USSR in wartime and make it to his son's hospital, only to find out that Goderzi got better and left the hospital to return to the front. So Giorgi goes to the front, at one point having a German unit march right past him. Eventually, he joins the army, still hoping to find his son.

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Tropes:

  • As You Know: As Giorgi is leaving his village, a villager wonders when the war will be over, saying "it's been a year", thus fixing the date.
  • Cool Old Guy: Giorgi. The CO of the regiment is at first incredulous when Giorgi says he wants to join. Giorgi points out that young men are fighting in the war, and women (he points to the lady telephone operator), so why can't old men? When he throws down his coat and offers to wrestle any man in the regiment the CO gives, and allows him to join.
  • Convenient Misfire: Giorgi returns to pick up a wounded Arkady, only to find a German soldier standing over Arkady and shooting him many times with a submachine gun. Giorgi screams in rage, the German turns, and his submachine gun jams. He's trying to un-jam it when Giorgi bounds forward, rips it out of his hands, and beats him to death with it.
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  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Sure enough, Giorgi finds his son in Germany, only to have Goderzi die in his arms after a German shell lands where Goderzi was standing.
  • Dope Slap: A little boy is getting dressed in the morning in a farmhouse where Giorgi's unit is temporarily resting. There's a propaganda anti-Hitler poster in the farmhouse. The little boy stops to shake his fist at Hitler. His mom smacks him on the back of the head and gets him moving again.
  • Downer Ending: Goderzi is killed, right after Giorgi finally finds him.
    Giorgi: What will I say to your mother?
  • New Year Has Come: Giorgi and his unit are in the trenches somewhere when a troupe of musicians suddenly shows up. The woman in charge cheerfully says that it's New Year's and that they are there to play them a concert. The sergeant says that his men are getting their first sleep in three days and he won't wake them up. So the troupe plays folk songs while only the sergeant listens.
  • Never Learned to Read: In Russian. Although Giorgi speaks Russian well enough to get along, he can't read it, which he sheepishly admits when a Russian hospital clerk hands him the registry.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Giorgi and his unit head off down a bridge, the war in its final days but not yet over.
  • Urban Warfare: The film ends with Giorgi and his unit fighting the Germans inside a building in some city that isn't named but seems to be Berlin.
  • White Stallion: A dramatic moment has Giorgi tramping down a dirt trail, headed in the vague direction of the front, when a woman comes charging through on a white stallion. She screams "Don't come this way, the Germans are coming!" And sure enough they are, as artillery shells start falling all around Giorgi soon after and the Germans themselves are tramping through the wheat fields after that.
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