Letter Never Sent (Neotpravlennoye pismo)

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Movie Info

A group of Russian geologists hunting for diamonds in Siberia becomes trapped by a forest fire.

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Critic Reviews for Letter Never Sent (Neotpravlennoye pismo)

All Critics (4) | Fresh (4)

Audience Reviews for Letter Never Sent (Neotpravlennoye pismo)

  • Feb 19, 2014
    As expected from a Kalatozov epic, the cinematography makes your jaw drop until it hits the floor and the camera becomes the omniscient master of the characters' fte. The wide ñlens, sometimes wide in scope, sometimes introspective and minimalist, captures the viewer into a truly convincing pioneer adventure that slowly escalates tension and becomes a tale of survival. In the name of technical revolution, Kalatozov was always a name that resonated in the international celluloid cannon. The tracking shots and the powerful performances were perfect compliments for the visual style, and took the power of the social commentary or the dramatic stories to unimagined levels. Unfortunately, in the particular case of <i>Neotpravlennoye pismo</i>, his 1959 adventure, the story only functions as an excuse to expose technical marvel. The film feels like "a Hollywood adventure shot by Mikhail Kalatozov", a thought that was formed in my mind halfway through. With the visual style as the only trademark to identify the movie, there is no metaphor, allegory, or any valid reason to actually care about the outcome of the four characters, or to even feel involved with the journey's original intention: to retrieve diamonds from Siberian landscapes. In this sense, characters have some kind of ambitions, but seem unclear to the viewer, leaving us with empty characters that, ironically, showcase an array of emotions through extraordinary performances. Moreover, unlike more meaningful deliveries like <i>The Treasure of Sierra Madre</i> (1948), which worked perfectly as a metaphor on greed and the uselessness of trusting others especially when material means are involved, <i>Letter Never Sent</i> masquerades character development with technical qualities, which is a BIG red alert in my book. There is nothing relevant in the background that functions as a motor to propel believability. Nevertheless, I cannot entirely complain against the film, given the breathtaking contributions it does from a technical point of view, all in the name of cinema development. The image juxtapositions are spectacular, performances are strong (as already mentioned), and the landscapes are beautiful enough to be devoured pressing the pause button and making black-and-white postcards. Less reflexive yet more powerful and influential than <i>The Grey</i> (2011), this is a standard adventure movie with lots of surprises to behold, including Mother Nature's stampede against four naive, little humans! 86/100 P.S. The Russians must have some fixation for unsent letters to loved ones.
    Edgar C Super Reviewer
  • Dec 05, 2011
    While a very sobbering film and one that really packs quite a lot of melodrama into it's short running time, Letter Never Sent is a very artistic work with a few things going for it. The cinematography is amazing and really captures nature in both a very serene and dangerous way through long shots and tracking shots of the vast landscape the explorers are within. The POV changes constantly in the film altering between scenic long shots to the varying characters point of views both in their normal interactions as well as being carried or finally succumbing to exhaustion. It really does add a very unique and personal perspective to the filming and the viewpoint of the person watching. It is tributed to explorers everywhere and the Soviet Union in which the characters say numerous times that they are conducting the geological search for the betterment of the movement. Taken as a tale of survival though, which it ends up truly being, the film is wonderfully done and very artistically captured.
    Chris B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 10, 2010
    "The Letter That Was Never Sent" is an awesomely shot but politically troubling tale of three geologists and their guide who are searching for diamonds in the pristine wilderness of Siberia.(Two of whom, Andrei(Vasili Livanov) and Tanya(Tatyana Samojlova,) are in love.) In summer, they have no luck, so they decide to stay until fall when curiosity turns into obsession. In America, the above plot could well have been about greed. In the Soviet Union, all four characters are devoted to serving the State(The movie is dedicated to all such explorers.) which is noble, I guess, but personal safety should always be a consideration. And a bigger factor than nationality should be the earth and the care it requires. I say that knowing the environmental movement does not happen until at least ten years after this movie was made, but some thought should have been given to the natural beauty that could be ruined by any diamond mining. (Originally reviewed in the blog section on January 28, 2008.)
    Walter M Super Reviewer
  • Oct 04, 2009
    Stark, raw and a little artsy. Fantastic performances all-around.
    Randy T Super Reviewer

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