Archive of films The Cranes Are Flying / Letyat zhuravli

1957, 98 min

Section: Out of the Past
Year: 2018

Andrei Tarkovsky described the visual merits of Mikhail Kalatozov’s films as outstanding and saw them as inspirational for his own work. In an era of faceless wartime epics, this drama, focusing on a simple tale of tragic love, appeared as a revelation – not only in its theme but in its expressive style, which ensured that the image, editing and sound also had a significant creative role to play in the film.


Love and war, a courageous sacrifice on the front, the torment of waiting for a loved one, and a girl suffering the agony of remorse for a perceived failure. These dramatic and emotionally powerful motifs form the basis for The Cranes Are Flying, which went on to win the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1958. The film disrupted the schematism of Soviet cinema: instead of clichés and the pathos of heroic themes, it offered close scrutiny of one of the many relationships tainted by war while, at the same time, the director allowed himself significant space to draw out the subjective experiences of his protagonists. Together with distinguished cameraman Sergey Urusevsky, he returned to the legacy of the Soviet avant-garde, telling his story using a purely cinematic idiom with special emphasis on elegant visual composition.

Zdena Škapová

About the director

Mikhail Kalatozov

Mikhail Kalatozov (1903, Tbilisi, Georgia, USSR – 1973, Moscow, USSR). Selected filmography: Salt for Svanetia (Jim Shvante, doc. 1930), Valery Chkalov (1941), Invincible (Nepobedimye, 1942), Letter Never Sent (Neotpravlennoe pismo, 1959), The Red Tent (Krasnaya palatka, 1969)


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About the film

Black & white, DCP

Section: Out of the Past
Director: Mikhail Kalatozov
Screenplay: Viktor Rozov
Dir. of Photography: Sergey Urusevsky
Music: Moisey Vaynberg
Editor: Mariya Timofeeva
Art Director: Evgeny Svidetelev
Production: Mosfilm Cinema Concern
Cast: Tatyana Samoylova, Aleksey Batalov
Sales: Mosfilm Cinema Concern

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