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 Palme d'Or for Best Director and Best Actress at the 1957 Cannes film festival. Set during World War II, it is a tragic story of the shattering of love and youthful ambitions by war. Two young sweethearts, Veronica (Tatiana Samoilova) and Boris (Alexei Batalov), are certain they will marry and live happily ever after. Then, Boris volunteers for the army. Kalatozov employs the kind of visually extravagant style that had been prohibited by Stalinist dogma since the silent era. With its unusual angles, huge close-ups, and bravura editing techniques, the film recalls the best of the Soviet masters Pudovkin, Dovzhenko, and Eisenstein. It is also distinguished by extraordinary performances, especially that of Samoilova, and by a sense of personal intimacy unique in the Soviet cinema of its time.