The Exquisite Cinematography of “The Cranes Are Flying”

At the beginning of Mikhail Kalatozov’s “The Cranes Are Flying”, Veronica played by the mesmerizing Tatiana Samoilova looks at her boyfriend before he goes off to war and declares, “Give me something I’ll remember as long as I live.” This is exactly what Kalatozov gifts film viewers with this exquisite piece of bravura filmmaking, a film to remember as long as we live.

What makes “The Cranes Are Flying” so unforgettable is the visual splendor of its cinematography. The fluid camera movement is simply put, astounding. It comes as no surprise that the film was shot by legendary cinematographer, Sergey Urusevsky, whose work in “Soy Cuba” is studied in film classes all around the world to this very day.

But Kalatozov’s Palme d’Or winning film is not just another technical marvel, it’s a truly an emotional rollercoaster of a film. What’s even more impressive is that most of the suspense has nothing to do with actual battle scenes. Instead of following the heroics of a soldier at war, the film stays with Veronika as she impatiently waits for her boyfriend’s return from the battlefield. The classic ‘young couple torn apart by war’ plotline has never been more immersive or personal. This tense ride of postwar Soviet cinema is one of the most beautiful war films I have ever seen; “The Cranes Are Flying” is pure cinema.

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