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Letyat zhuravli (The Cranes are Flying) Reviews

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August 8, 2014
One of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Near perfection in every sense.
July 29, 2014
Amazing cinematography
January 8, 2014
One of the most memorable movies I have ever seen. The crane camera shots are unforgettable. It helps to know a bit about the horror of the Eastern Front in WWII: 20 million people from the Soviet Union died. Makes my 100 greatest movies list. It helps that I have seen the mass graves in Leningrad.
November 13, 2013
Incredibly haunting and exquisitely made black and white story of a young, unmarried Russian couple separated by the second world war.
June 8, 2013
Can be seen as counterpart to "Ballad of a Soldier". Filmed around the same time, this film takes the perspective of a young woman during the second world war. Social and moral confusion of the film are added to with social exile and the inability to redeem ones self.
May 18, 2013
This movie had it all! Excitement! Romance! War! Russians!
While the plot was "A Farewell to Arms"-ish, the presentation was incredible. With the expert use of light and shadows, it almost felt like an old German expressionism film . . .
May 6, 2013
Beautiful and heartbreaking.
March 2, 2013
Mikhail Kalatazov's grand masterpiece is one of the greatest cinematic achievements, not only in Russian Cinema but also in the world cinema.
October 24, 2012
My all time favorite!
January 22, 2013
Two young lovers, separated by the war, maintain an impossible dream of seeing each other again. The film is a hopelessly romantic anti war manifesto, though never forgetting to be patriotic and proud as a production of Communist Soviet Union was expected to have been. The film is very dramatic and gripping, and filled with unpredictable and grim plot developments.
November 19, 2012
a melodrama saved by it magnificent cinematography
March 30, 2009
Considering this was made in 50's USSR it's quite stylish, but it feels about 15 years older than what it is and, since I'm not really a fan of that time period, I really didn't find much special here, though the end was poignant.
October 30, 2012
"You can daydream when the war is over" and it makes you wait...
October 16, 2012
The cinematography is the star of this movie. You can see a lot of Sergei Eisenstein's influence in the chaotic crowd scenes, the unusual angles of architecture and the placement of the characters, the loose camera work as a character is running, the long pans. The scene where Fyodor first kisses Veronica during the bombing is especially great. Great acting, especially Tatiana Samoilova.

The story is kind of predictable, though. I really didn't like the "happy" ending which just felt forced. I liked how they showed the effects of the war in the hospitals, the lost child, the rationing, but it feels real tame. Everyone seems unusually cheerful, even the soldiers on the front, probably because this was funded by the Communist Party and they don't want anything that might lead you to question the government's handling of the war. It really hampers the movie. Obviously, I wasn't there, but they could have ramped up the suffering of the war (like Rossellini's movies) to show the true cost of it and add to the stakes of the main characters. Instead it feels like they're saying the war was a bother, but it's over and we're all happy now. The script probably had to be approved by the government first, so I can't fault the filmmaker's entirely. I was just hoping for something a little more powerful.

Still, I'd recommend it for the cinematography alone. If you're a movie buff, check it out.
November 18, 2010
This is a really exceptional film that satisfies the viewer on many levels. As a love story it is a simple yet sad tale so well constructed and beautifully acted by all the cast, but more than that, this film is a wonderful journey through the eye of a genuine cinematic auteur. There are so many iconic scenes in this film that it's hard to believe that it was made so long ago with so few of them imitated since. It is a film students dream and the viewer can delight in a piece of work where every shot seems to have been chosen with such attention to detail that you can but marvel in the creative ingenuity of both the cinematographer and director. A real gem of a film that puts many subsequent "Arthouse" pieces to shame. I was recommended to see this film by a former film critic and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who really loves cinema. This really is a masterpiece of great beauty and ingenuity. I genuinely urge you to see this film :-)
October 28, 2011
This film had one really great sequence, one of the most beautiful I've seen in any film! There are numerous other shots to love also. Samojilova was good. The last sequence is not needed. Preachy.
November 25, 2011
Joseph Stalin's terror regime put an end to all creative groundbreaking movie making in the Soviet Union. All the films was purely propaganda, that only showed Lenin and Stalin's greatness, and during World War II this was used to sends millions of troops to the front, even more brutal than the Tsar Nicholas III did in the previous war. It was first after Stalin's death and Khrushchev's famous speech which criticized the Stalinism that the Russian cinema started to grown once more. And the subject that was brought up was the over twenty million soldiers and civilian that was killed during the war. This brought many director to make anti-war films, so that the soviet people finally got to morn over their loved ones.

The first film to do so was Mikhail Kalatozov's The Cranes are Flying in 1957. It tells the story about a young couple, who's barely in their twenties. Veronika and Boris are made for each other. But the war burst out, and Boris is enlisted, and have no time to say goodbye to his girlfriend. While he is away, his cousin Mark falls for Veronika, and since Boris is away she thinks it's her duty to marry Mark, because she hasn't heard from Boris and even assume the worst, and through the whole war she thinks of nothing but her lost love of her life Boris, whom no one knows is alive or dead. She volunteers as a nurse in Siberia, in hopes to find Boris among the wounded.

The Cranes are Flying isn't that we can call an original film in sense of plot, compared to the Americans they are twenty-thirty years behind. But the cinematography and use of hand-held camera is so superb. But it's also thanks to the good acting and the realistic art directions, which makes it more authentic then most of the anti-war films of it's time. And all the sad feelings, Veronikas grief and longings is so emotionally touching. It is indeed a very good anti-war film, that we can feel with our whole body. And it was the first in line of other russian anti-war films such as: Tarkovsky's Ivan's Childhood, Chukhrai's Ballad of a Soldier and Bondarchuk's War and Peace. All of them perfect anti-war films in any way, with no heroism nor any victory, just loss.

Super Reviewer

July 10, 2011
Flawless war masterpiece, mostly captivating and heartbreaking, but honest drama about a doomed romance set in war times. Kalatozov uses powerful ideals of moral, a wonderful photography and ambitious editing techniques to create unforgettable sequences, from the car accident to the brilliant ending, a scene that definitely should be applauded.

November 10, 2010
Truly one of the most beautifully photographed movies I've ever seen.
Robert F

Super Reviewer

October 16, 2010
Mostly a work of overimpressive technical virtuosity.
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