The Paper Soldier offers a very unique view of the "space race," in taking the point of view of a doctor responsible for the health and well being of the cosmonauts, Gagarin and Titov, in the weeks leading up to the historic launch. This is no rose-tinted perspective, but rather how Chekhov or Pasternak might have imagined the space program, as all the action takes place in the distance, while the doctors deal with abject life in Baikonur, the remote cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
What struck me was the bleakness and squalor of Baikonur. It looks literally like the end of the line to the railroad with a camel framing in a shot of a test rocket shooting into space in the distance. It makes you wonder how the Soviets ever got a rocket into space. The film takes its title from a ballad originally sung by Bulat Okudzhava.
You can watch the film in parts in Russian on Youtube.