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As the clouds of war spread over Russia during Germany's surprise invasion in 1941, the fervent young lovers, the sensitive Veronika and the stalwart Boris, are parted when the patriotic lad secretly volunteers for the war effort. During the following hard years, Veronika who serves her country as a wartime-nurse will lose communication with Boris, moreover, when a devastating air raid destroys her house and Boris' father takes her in to live with the family, unexpectedly, things will take a turn for the worse. Before long, the worried fiancée will find herself dealing not only with the dark thoughts of Boris' potential loss but also with the burden of an unwelcome decision. Once, the star-crossed lovers swore eternal devotion under a flock of flying cranes, still, a war is always cruel and eternally disastrous.Written by
This is what lovers of movie-history dream of. Be blown away by the advanced quality and content!
I had seen director Kalatozov's "I am Cuba" before I saw this movie. I loved the camera work in "I am Cuba", but I felt that the story was too rigid, too much of a propaganda piece, too much of an advertisement for my taste. The characters weren't real enough, not fully developed. It felt as if I were watching types of people rather than actual people. In "The Cranes are Flying", which Kalatozov made prior to "I am Cuba", I didn't find the same problem. The story is thoroughly engaging, and I felt a whole range of emotions. The lead character, specifically is so real, I think she will haunt my dreams. She is played by Tatyana Samojlova who deserves special acclaim. She is dazzling. Her sweet charm reminded me of Audrey Hepburn, and yet Samojlova's acting seems to have a broader range. Hers is more realistic in a way that feels ahead of its time in 1957. Her wild despair is in a league with the best emoter actresses, such as Natalie Wood, Isabelle Adjani, Juliette Binoche.
I must mention, also, that the cinematography is so crisp, it seems to be 4 decades ahead of its time. As far as composition and movement of the camera, I'd say it has strains of several styles, including German Expressionism of the 20's and 30's, and the stormy noir melodramas of the '40s, like "Out of the Past" (1947).
This is a romantic, dramatic movie that looks long and hard at the repercussions of war, and yes, it does have a message and it certainly hammers it home, but still I think it stays more clearly in the realm of universal themes, rather than falling into the propagandist ditch.
In summary, I don't think I have ever seen better acting, better camera work, better editing, or better direction in any movie made previous to it. There were some scenes made with such planning and precision that I had to press "PAUSE" just to catch my breath. Lovers of movie history, enjoy!
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