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Letyat zhuravli
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Reviews & Ratings for
The Cranes Are Flying More at IMDbPro »Letyat zhuravli (original title)

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

The War Weepie Reduced to its Very Essence

Author: oliver-177 from United States
27 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a magnificent, and in many ways impressive film. I saw it on TV as a little boy, with my throat almost strangled with tears, and again today on the magnificently restored Criterion DVD.

Cranes is the very essence of the War Weepie. Imagine Umbrellas of Cherbourg with no music and no color, or Waterloo Bridge with no class consciousness.

Tatiana Samoilova, a cross between Vivien Leigh and Bjork, is deeply affecting as a pretty girl whose fiancé enlists and doesn't write or come back.

The fiancé, Boris, dies on the front, and his death scene is indescribably romantic. Very daring too, because so close to "over the top." But that scene will stay with you.

Although the Soviets were so defined by WWII, the movie is quite unspecific, and more powerful for it. The pre-war and post-war scenes have a very 1957 feel. There is no attempt at period detail. The whole film becomes more and more stylized, until the Siberian scenes, which feel like a modern opera set (that is a compliment). The cathartic final scene is milked to its last drop - there again, comparable to Cherbourg. The production feels like a big budget (those staircase scenes must have cost a pretty kopek).

Go for it. Don't expect a bitter socialist pill (although it is, of course, very sad). The Cranes are Flying is an impressive slice of world cinema, quite advanced considering where and when it was made.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Love, war and drama have rarely been mixed in more convincing and effective with each other.

Author: Boba_Fett1138 from Groningen, The Netherlands
15 January 2012

It's always good and interesting to watch a WW II movie, that is telling a not so common story or is telling things from an unique perspective.

This is a WW II movie that focuses more on what happens to those who are not fighting and are at home, waiting for their beloved ones to return home safely. This is not unique but what is sort of unique is that it's doing it without falling into the usual clichés and isn't using any false sentiments to fuel its drama. This is really foremost why "Letyat zhuravli" works out as both an original drama and WW II movie.

And it's an Soviet movie, so that already means that it's being different from anything you're probably accustomed to. Soviet movies at the time always had a very distinctive- and powerful style and atmosphere over it, this one included. Yes, you could also really call it a propaganda movie (especially toward its end it's really starting to head into that direction) but this is of course not necessarily a bad thing. As a matter of fact, it's even what makes some Soviet movies even more interesting to watch, in todays light and retrospective.

One thing that almost immediately becomes apparent about this movie, is that it's an incredible well shot one. Its camera-work is fantastic and they used some unique shots for this movie. But also with all of its close-ups and large crowed scenes, it's a great looking black & white movie, that uses some fine lighting as well.

It also helps the movie that it's being a quite short one. Before thing start to dwell on and before things can get too melodramatic, it's over already. 90 minutes (and a bit) was basically the perfect running time for this movie.

As far as war movies, mixed with drama and romance go, this is definitely one of the better and more unique movies to watch.


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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

as if one is leafing through some master photographer's album

Author: christopher-underwood from United Kingdom
16 November 2008

Fabulous cinematography from Sergei Urusevsky help to make this a stunning piece of work. The opening scenes are as if one is leafing through some master photographer's album and as the story begins to unfold we are swept away with both the events depicted and the beautiful look. All is well shot but there are several whole sequences that are simply breathtaking. Difficult to describe without 'spoiling' but suffice to say one is a very intense scene during an air raid and the lady left behind and her lover's brother are at odds as the sirens whine and the windows shatter. Another superimposes a swirling staircase and a spinning shot of tree tops and even develops into a fantasy sequence. Soviet film making of the highest order.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Classic of all the time

Author: shusei from Japan
16 November 2007

This film is undoubtedly one of the greatest landmarks in history of cinema. By seeing this film,we can only retrospectively notice that world cinema in 1950s had such a purely humanistic dramaturgy,such a strong and adequate use of sound-image montage,and almost religious admiration of ethical choices in human life. Cinema was then not only one form of arts. It was much higher than ordinary life and it gave many people hope to live after the tragic war. It is said, that even Picasso was moved and cried that such a work of art can appear only once in 100 years! Audience that time was also different. I read that after seeing Kurosawa's "Ikiru(Live)" in its first release, young couple quietly told each other,"It is a good film, isn't it?". I think,contemporary cinema, though technically developed and opened some new narrative perspective, has lost the most important---reliance of audience.Cienma was once really the most popular art from and, unlike modern fine arts and contemporary music,gave millions of people hope and ideals. In this point of view,"Letyat zhuravli" must be in the pantheon of classics of all the time, as "City light","Ikiru" and "La Strada".

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

The effects of war

Author: ambitten from Rio de Janeiro
10 May 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This film tries to explore the effects of war on people's lives. It builds a powerful argument to show that under special circumstances, peoples's choices have nothing to do with personal projects,desires or even feelings but are a reflex and are linked to those special circumstances. For instance, Boris decided to go to war in order to defend his country but his real desire was to live with Veronica. Also she married to Boris'cousin but she never forgot Boris, instead her choice was made as a result of lack of perspectives in relation to Boris and the death of her parents. The director is very competent to build a plot that is able to both illustrate his main idea while showing all the horror of war. This is a very good film and for this reason it won Cannes Festival.

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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful, poignant story of undying love eternal.....

Author: Michael Campellone ( from Southern California, USA
28 September 1999

This film is what fine Russian cinema is all about. With outstanding performances, an engrossing storyline, and highly refined characters, this makes for one excellent film.

The story is set in Russia just as World War II is about to engulf all of Europe. The heroine of the film, the lovely young and fresh Veronica is madly in love with her Fiance, Boris. Just as they are making their life plans, Boris is called off to war. In the very first war scene, Boris is violently killed, totally unknown to Veronica. Throughout the film, for the duration of the war, Veronica suffers and struggles for survival, always looking towards the day that her beloved Boris will return. The end of the film brings us to the train station with Veronica waiting for the last train load of soldiers to arrive from the front. The war is over, and all men are returning home. She is holding a huge bouquet of flowers that she has picked especially for Boris. The entire time, Veronica never stopped not only believing, but KNOWING that Boris is alive, and will return to her. Her intense love for him is all that kept her going. Now, in the final scene, with the last man off the train, now she finally realizes that Boris is not coming home. How does she react? With crying? Hysterics? No, in the classic style of Soviet cinema, she simply approaches each of the soldiers that has returned home, and begins to hand them each a flower from the bunch that she had picked for her Boris. A truly heart-wrenching end, this film will have every one in tears. ADVICE - keep plenty of tissue handy - you're going to need it! A MUST SEE FILM!!!!!!!!!!

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The cranes are still flying

Author: andrabem from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
20 May 2007

I'm out of words to describe the beauty of "The Cranes are Flying", but I'll try anyway to write about it. It's a powerful and delicate love story that takes its place in the Second World War. It's the classic story of lovers (Boris & Veronika) separated by the war and of what comes between them. The film's images are so gorgeous, that you'll be carried away - the film technique is in perfect unison with the emotion.

There are few scenes that portray directly the war: A bombing - wind, lightnings, explosions - that will have important consequences in the life of the main protagonist, Veronika, who waits for the return of Boris; and there's another scene on the front, where we we will be confronted by a emotional/visual hurricane showing the images played in Boris' mind. Another scene works as the leitmotif of the film and provides its title - the cranes flying in the sky. This image stands as a the symbol for Nature and its seasons and underlines the final message of the film: Not to give up hope and fight for a better future.

Kalatozov is a great director, this film is visually stunning and it also touched me deeply. It is not just pure technique.

Tatyana Samojlova is perfect as Veronika. What more can I say? The film transcends the time it was made - the action takes place during the Second World War. But it could have happened anytime, anywhere. As long there are wars (great or small) the film and its message will remain relevant.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Mistake in my previous review.

Author: ( from United States
16 May 2007

In my review just submitted I referred to the young actress lead as Katerina when it should have been Veronika. I was so involved with character and the action I guess that I wasn't that concerned with names. Anyway, she and the film are brilliant. As I said, the cinematography and the director's use of montage are worthy of Eisenstein and his cameraman, Tisse'. The production design is top notch. The placement of actors in the foreground, middle ground and background within any given mise en scene is worthy of study. Stunning, memorable camera movement, and an ending that has an emotional punch that leaves Hollywood films far behind. Gee! Heroic self sacrifice instead of walking into the rainbow. Thanks again, John Hart

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The Cranes are Flying

Author: Scarecrow-88 from United States
16 May 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While Boris(Aleksey Batalov)is off to fight in war against the Germans for his Mother Russia, his beloved Veronika(Tatyana Samojlova)marries his conniving cousin Mark(Aleksandr Shvorin)in a moment of weakness shortly after her parents were killed in an air raid over Moscow. Through various trials and betrayals, Veronika will await word or letter from Boris no matter how long it takes, holding hope that he will return to her.

Powerful piece of film-making boasts simply incredible photographic work by cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky. Some of the many magnificently framed, moving shots include the scene where the camera follows Veronika through a crowd of loved ones saying goodbye to each other as she rushes through the mob of bodies to say goodbye to Boris..and doesn't quite reach him even as we watch Boris looking impatiently into the swarm without luck. The sequence after the air raid where Veronika walks up the standing stairs circulating up the destroyed building she once called home and the scene where Mark makes his lustful move on Veronika as another air raid continues just outside the building as wind rustles the curtains and flashes of light emanate inside are just two of MANY examples where Sergei Urusevsky shows his genius at framing images that will last forever on film. But, without the power and tragedy of the story regarding how war can forever shape the destiny of a couple who dearly, deeply love each other, this film couldn't hold up with the beauty of the visual alone. Together, however, we're left with an amazing film..simply a haunting masterpiece from the Soviet Union after Stalin breathed his last breath. I feel honored just have beheld such a great film.

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2 out of 5 people found the following review useful:

Outstanding Russian Film

Author: whpratt1 from United States
17 May 2007

This film was produced and directed about four (4) years after the death of Joseph Stalin the leader of the Soviet Union and is a story about a WW II war between Russia and Germany when Russia was attacked by the Nazi's. Tatyana Samojlova,(Veronika) played the role of a very beautiful young Russian girl who is deeply in love with her boyfriend, Aleksey Batalov,(Boris) who enjoy the outdoors and they both view a scene with a flock of Craines flying in formation and her boyfriend writes her a poem about these Craines. This couple is planning to get married and then a sudden event of War disrupts all their plans and they are separated. This film gives a down to earth experience just what people had to face during World War II and how people deal with their lives and others around them. This is a wonderful experience viewing this film and a great Russian film from 1957. Enjoy

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