The Cranes Are Flying

One of the most acclaimed Soviet films of all time, The Cranes Are Flying won the Grand Prize for best Picture and the Gold Palm for Best Director and Best Actress at the 1957 Cannes Film Festival. Set during World War II, the film is a tragic story of the shattering of youthful ambitions and love by war. Two young lovers, Veronica (Tatiana Samoilova) and Boris (Alexei Batalov), are certain they will marry and live happily forever. But Boris volunteers for the Army. In the film's most moving sequence, Boris' train is about to leave, and Veronica, detained by columns of marching soldiers, arrives at the station too late to bid her lover goodbye. They are never to see each other again; war has irrevocably separated them.

Kalatozov directed this film in the kind of visually extravagant style that had been prohibited by Stalinist dogma since the silent era. The film is filled with unusual angles, huge close-ups, and bravura editing techniques; this vivid, impressionistic style gives the viewer a sense of cinematic freedom that recalls the best of Pudovkin, Dovzhenko and Eisenstein. The film is also distinguished by extraordinary performances, especially that of Tatiana Samoilova, who succeeds in constantly engaging our sympathy.

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