The Cranes Are Flying (1957)
"Letyat zhuravli" (original title)

Not Rated  |   |  Drama, Romance, War  |  21 March 1960 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.2/10 from 9,610 users  
Reviews: 63 user | 50 critic

Veronica plans a rendezvous with her lover, Boris, at the bank of river, only for him to be drafted into World War II shortly thereafter.



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Nominated for 2 BAFTA Film Awards. Another 4 wins. See more awards »
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Credited cast:
Tatyana Samoylova ...
Veronika (as T. Samoylova)
Aleksey Batalov ...
Boris (as A. Batalov)
Vasiliy Merkurev ...
Fyodor Ivanovich (as V. Merkuryev)
Aleksandr Shvorin ...
Mark (as A. Shvorin)
Svetlana Kharitonova ...
Irina (as S. Kharitonova)
Konstantin Kadochnikov ...
Volodya (as K. Nikitin)
Valentin Zubkov ...
Stepan (as V. Zubkov)
Antonina Bogdanova ...
Babushka (as A. Bogdanova)
Boris Kokovkin ...
Chernov (as B. Kokovkin)
Ekaterina Kupriyanova ...
Anna Mikhajlovna (as Ye. Kupriyanova)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Valentina Ananina ...
(as V. Ananina)
Olga Dzisko ...
(as O. Dzisko)
Klarina Frolova-Vorontsova ...
(as K. Frolova)
Leonid Knyazev ...
(as L. Knyazev)
Georgiy Kulikov ...
(as Yu. Kulikov)


Veronica and Boris are walking in the streets of Moscow and they love each other. Veronica is laughing, cause they are happy together this morning. They see some cranes in the sky. When arriving to Veronica's house they talk about a rendezvous at the bank of the river. And the 2nd World War begins in Moscow. Boris works in a factory and he hasn't got time to speak with Veronica. He has to go to the war ... Written by Kornel Osvart <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A drama of young love - passion, devotion and betrayal. See more »


Drama | Romance | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

21 March 1960 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Cranes Are Flying  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mikhail Kalatozov spent several years in Los Angeles on a diplomatic assignment where he acquired an admiration for the works of Frank Borzage, King Vidor and Vincente Minnelli. See more »


[first lines]
Boris: Wait, squirrel! Here. Put it on.
See more »


Featured in Nanika omoroi koto nai ka (1963) See more »

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User Reviews

Visually inventive by any standards; inventive narrative by Soviet standards
20 October 2002 | by (Bloomington, IN) – See all my reviews

The story told by The Cranes are Flying is not, admittedly, all that original. Young lovers are separated by war; bad things happen to both. We've seen it many times before.

Nonetheless, we haven't seen it filmed this well, with bold shots that take liberties to emphasize separation, or destruction, or hopelessness. All the more remarkable coming from the Soviet Union, and reason to conclude that Tarkovsky is not the last word in modern-era Soviet cinema.

I was reading Chekhov's "Three Sisters" the other day, and chanced upon what may be the meaning of the title of this film. In Act 2, Masha objects to the notion that we must live our lives without meaning or understanding:

"MASHA: Surely mankind must believe in something, or at least seek for the truth, otherwise life is just emptiness, emptiness. To live and not to know why the cranes are flying, why children are born, why there are stars in the sky. Either you must know why it is you live, or everything is trivial - mere pointless nonsense."

Likewise, Veronika has a hard time believing that the war, and her and others' sufferings, have been pointless. Better to assign a meaning, to live as if one's life is significant, and not to give in to despair. It is perhaps this thinking that prompts her to her final act in the film.

BTW as a minor correction to one other comment here--there may be a pattern of V's in the film, though I hadn't noticed them myself. But the first letter of Veronika's name is not a further instance of this; in the Cyrillic alphabet, her name begins with a letter which looks like an English "B".

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