Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Cranes Are Flying

Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957, USSR, bw (8.4*)
Palm d'Or (Cannes)
This was one of the first post-Stalin films from the USSR that got distribution in the west, becoming a critical and commercial success in the US as well as winning the Palm d'Or at Cannes. It's a beautifully photographed black and white anti-war film that dealt with the effects of war on civilians in a realistic manner without sentimentality, similar to way Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives showed the effect of war on Americans.

The story involves a beautiful young woman named Veronika, played by Tatyana Samojlova, who has decided that Boris will be her fiance (not Mark), just as he gets sent off to WW2, along with best friend Stefan. His cousin Mark (Aleksandr Shvorin) receives a deferrment and remains behind, and is also in love with Veronika, who now must decide between remaining faithful or being practical. We first see the effect of the war on those who remain at home, and later for those who go off to war, as many return wounded, reminding Veronika the nurse of the absence of her love.

This is a heroic story about the struggle of the common man, and even manages to poke some good-natured fun at "the workers maintaining their work quota at the factory in spite of war". This is not a war story about heroism in battle, as we never see the war directly, but about courage and cowardice among the civilians.


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Artist, photographer, composer, author, blogger, metaphysician, herbalist

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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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