The Cranes Are Flying' DVD, Mikheil Kalatozishvili (1957), New & Sealed.
1956 was the 20th Congress of the Communist Party and the Soviet Premier Krushchev made a speech denouncing Stalin and the Stalinist purges and the gulag labor systems, revealing information that was previously forbidden, publicly revealing horrible new truths, which opened the door for a new Soviet Cinema led by Mikhail Kalatozov, once Stalin's head of film production. This film features a Red Army that is NOT victorious, in fact they are encircled, in a retreat mode, with many people dying, including the hero, in a film set after 06-02-41, the German invasion of Russia when Germany introduced the Barbarossa Plan, a blitzkrieg invasion intended to bring about a quick victory and the ultimate enslavement of the Slavs, and very nearly succeeded, actually getting within 20 miles of Moscow in what was a Red Army wipe out, a devastation of human losses, 15 to 20 million Russians died, or 20% of the entire population. Historically, this was a moment of great trauma and suffering, a psychological shock to the Russian people, but the Red Army held and prolonged the war 4 more years until they were ultimately victorious.
During the war, Stalin used the war genre in films for obvious morale boosting, introducing female heroines who were ultra-patriotic and strong and idealistic, suggesting that if females could be so successful and patriotic, then Russia could expect at least as much from their soldiers. Stalin eliminated the mass hero of the proletariat and replaced it with an individual, bold leader who was successful at killing many of the enemy, an obvious reference to Stalin himself, who was always portrayed in film as a bold, wise and victorious leader. But Kalatozov changed this depiction, as THE CRANES ARE FLYING was made after Stalin's death, causing a political thaw and creating a worldwide sensation, winning the Cannes Film Festival Palm D'Or, as well as the Best Director and Best Actress (Tatyana Samoilova), reawakening the West to Soviet Cinema for the first time since Eisenstein's IVAN THE TERRIBLE in the 40's.
This film featured brilliant, breathtaking, and extremely mobile camera work from his extraordinary cinematographer Sergei Uresevsky, using spectacular crane and tracking shots, images of wartime, battlefields, Moscow and crowded streets that are extremely vivid and real. Another brilliant scene features the lead heroine, Veronica, who hasn't heard from her lover, Boris, in the 4 years at war, so he is presumed dead, but she continues to love him, expressed in a scene where she runs towards a bridge with a train following behind her, a moment when the viewer was wondering if she might throw herself in front of that train, instead she saves a 3 yr old boy named Boris who was about to be hit by a car. Another scene captures the death of Boris on the battlefield, who dies a senseless death, and his thoughts spin and whirl in a beautiful montage of trees, sky, leaves, all spinning in a kaleidoscope of his own thoughts and dreams, including an imaginary wedding with Veronica. This film features the famous line, 'You can dream when the war is over.' In the final sequence, when the war is over, the soldiers are returning in a mass scene on the streets, Veronica learns Boris died, all are happy and excited with the soldier's return, but Veronica is in despair, passing out flowers to soldiers and strangers on the street in an extreme gesture of generosity and selflessness revealing 'cranes white and gray floating in the sky.'
The film was released in 1957 in Russia, and according to some reviews, 'the silence in the theater was profound, the wall between art and living life had fallen...and tears unlocked the doors.'
Director: Mikheil Kalatozishvili
Tatyana Samojlova .... Veronika (as T. Samojlova)
Aleksei Batalov .... Boris
Vasili Merkuryev .... Fyodor Ivanovich (as V. Merkuryev)
Aleksandr Shvorin .... Mark (as A. Shvorin)
Svetlana Kharitonova .... Irina (as S. Kharitonova)
Konstantin Nikitin .... Volodya (as K. Nikitin)
Valentin Zubkov .... Stepan (as V. Zubkov)
Antonina Bogdanova .... Grandmother (as A. Bogdanova)
Boris Kokovkin .... Tyernov (as B. Kokovkin)
Yekaterina Kupriyanova .... Anna Mikhajlovna (as Ye. Kupriyanova)
rest of cast listed alphabetically
Klarina Frolova (as K. Frolova)
Leonid Knyazev (as L. Knyazev)
Aleksandr Popov (as Sasha Popov)
Nikolai Smorchkov (as N. Smorchkov)
Coding: All Region Code / NTSC Format
Video: 4:3 Fullscreen
Audio: Dolby Digital / AC-3 / 5.1 Surround Sound
Languages: English / Chinese
Subtitles: English / Chinese / None (Removable)
Colour: Black & White