The Cranes Are Flying (1957)

Phenomenal. I was already a big admirer, since the mid-90s, of the two films made after this by the partnership of director Mikhail Kalatozov and cameraman Sergei Urusevsky, and this one didn’t disappoint; I’m only sorry now that I took so many years to get around to seeing it. (Another case of having the DVD for ages, then taking ages to actually watch the thing.) Apparently the first Soviet film of the Cold War period to be released in the US, and one of the first highlights of the post-Stalin revival of Soviet cinema, this is incredibly powerful and affecting stuff that could’ve been just melodrama but happily goes beyond that. One of the things that puts it over is Urusevsky’s extraordinary cinematography; it’s not as wild as some of the stunts he pulled later, but it’s not far off at times.

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