THE CRANES ARE FLYING

Letyat Zhuravli

 (Mikhail Kalatozov, USSR, 1957) 92 minutes

THE CRANES ARE FLYING

Director: Mikhail Kalatozov
Production: Mosfilm
Screenplay: Viktor Rosov,
from his play Eternally Alive
Photography: Sergey Urusevsky
Editor: M Timofeyevna
Music: Mosei Veinberg
Tatyana Samoilova (Veronika)
Aleksey Batalov (Boris)
Aleksandr Shvorin (Mark)
Vasily Merkuryev (Fyodor Ivanovich)
Valentin Zubkov (Stephan)
S Kharitonova (Irina)

Reviews and notes

When THE CRANES ARE FLYING shared the Grand Prix at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, the West was quick to see it as a sign of change in the Soviet Union. Coming only a year after Kruschev had denounced Stalin's dictatorship in his momentous 'secret speech' to the 20th Party Congress, a film dedicated to the healing of wounds of war and to the search for personal happiness was bound to be seen as evidence of a new climate. The fact that Kalatozov himself had contributed to the Cold War paranoia of Stalin's last years was happily forgotten as audiences everywhere - including the Soviet Union - welcomed this moving account of a young woman's trying to come to terms with the loss of her lover in war.

Having heard no news of Boris from the front, Veronica reluctantly agrees to marry his brother. However her work in a hospital brings her close to many whose fidelity has been severely tested. Inspired, she leaves the brother to await her lover's return. It was not only the refreshing substitution of humanist for Stalinist propaganda that made THE CRANES so popular. As a veteran of the early avant-garde period (Salt For Svanetia was one of the most brilliant of all pre-World War II documentaries) Kalatozov brought a stylistic range back into Soviet cinema after the leaden framing and tempo of the Stalin era. Perhaps a short wartime spell in Los Angeles had broadened his outlook, yet there is also a sheer exhilaration at being able to make cinema again which distinguishes this as a landmark film in Soviet, and world, cinema.
-Ian Christie, Toronto Film Festival, 1988.

Weblink: Review by Chris Dashiell

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