by guest writer
The Cranes Are Flying (1957), directed by Mikhail Kalatozov, is without doubt one of the best war movies ever to have enthralled our eyes. With a screenplay adapted after his theater play by Viktor Rozov, the movie is a tour de force from beginning to end. It won the Palme D’or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1958 and it is one of the most unforgettable cinematic experiences you’ll have. Stylistically powerful, the film runs like a visual poetry. S. Urusevsky’s inventive black and white camera use is felt like a living artifact that participates with every breath in offering genuine feelings and resonance marked with humour and study of different forms of enduring love. Filled with tracking shots that will go to the limits in reaching their visual target, the movie is just a chain of perfect images that create an immaculate cinematography.
The Cranes Are Flying main theme is the ephemeral and persisting love affected by the horrors of war. World War II serves as the background of devastation and its results are the point of a harsh and subtle critique. Veronica (Tatiana Samoilova) plays such an honest and natural role that there are moments when you think the character transcends to the real world. Made in the era following Stalin’s death in 1953, the movie is one of the most accomplished pieces of world cinema and its level of artistic achievement is one of the highest.
photo: still from the movie captured for Classiq, from this edition of The Cranes Are Flying, released by The Criterion Collection