Visually stunning and emotionally gripping, Grigori Chukhrai's poetic masterpiece Ballad of a Soldier has been given an equally important release from the Criterion Collection. The film's brilliant black-and-white cinematography has been given an excellent digital upgrade, as has the Russian-language soundtrack. The image is consistently clear and sharp, with very little grain visible. The mono soundtrack (with optional English-language subtitles) occasionally shows its age, but it is nevertheless in excellent shape. The disc also contains some fantastic radio interviews from the New York preview screening in 1960 with director Chukhrai and stars Vladimir Ivashov and Zhanna Prokhorenko. The three separate interviews are fascinating, and occasionally heated (specifically Chukhrai's agitated manner in response to some of the questions he's being asked). The disc also contains a lengthy and worthwhile essay included in the keep-case. Although Russia's greatest cinematic antiwar testament remains Elem Klimov's devastating 1985 film Come and See, Ballad of a Soldier should be at the top of your must-see world cinema list.