The Cranes are Flying (Letyat zhuravli) Reviews
I'd never heard of Mikheil Kalatozishvili prior to this, now I know what I've been missing. He crafts this war-torn love story with such tenderness you can't help but hope for the somewhat doomed characters, and though we only get a brief view of the romance between the leads, it somehow leaps to the forefront with energy and urgency. I blame Tatyana Samojlova for being an absolute knock-out and a stunning performer in the gut wrenching landscape she's placed in. This woman alone carries the films story, which is heavily accentuated by its visual execution.
The camera work and technicality here are off the charts. Long, long, gorgeously photographed tracking shots, cameras ascending in dizzying spirals, racing images that rival the impressive work done in Children of Men, all culminate in this cinematic pressure-cooker before exploding in jovial boasts of visual bombast. Surprisingly, the visual side never overtakes the story, but since we're given a leading lady whose character responds physically and emotionally in a way that matches what we see, the two go together like clockwork.
Now, if I'm ever asked what Russian cinema was like in the 1950's, I can answer with confidence that they were way ahead of their time.
Boris and Veronica are in love, but WWII breaks out, and Boris volunteers to serve. Veronica then has to deal with the persistent courting attempts from Boris' cousin in his absence. The story is more complex then that, but I wouldnt want to ruin anything!