The Cranes are Flying (Letyat zhuravli) Reviews
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 . . .
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.
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.