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The Cranes are Flying (The Criterion Collection)

4.6 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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(Apr 30, 2002)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Veronica and Boris are blissfully in love, until the eruption of World War II tears them apart. Boris is sent to the front lines...and then communication stops. Meanwhile, Veronica tries to ward off spiritual numbness while Boris' draft-dodging cousin makes increasingly forceful overtures. Winner of the Palme d'Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, The Cranes are Flying is a superbly crafted drama, bolstered by stunning cinematography and impassioned performances.


Mikhail Kalatozov's luscious portrait of love and loss during World War II stars almond-eyed beauty Tatyana Samojlova and handsome Aleksei Batalov as moony-eyed young lovers whose innocent romance is shattered by war. When the idealistic boy volunteers for service, his draft-dodging cousin steals the despondent girl by brute force, yet she never gives up on her true love, even when he's reported dead. Kalatozov's patriotic paean to fallen soldiers and home-front heroes is an undeniably sentimental melodrama suffused with lush images and lyrical sequences, a kind of cinematic poetry unseen in Soviet cinema since the experimentation and optimism of the silent days. Produced during the "thaw" following Stalin's repressive reign, it won the Palme d'Or prize at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival and set Kalatozov on the road to more ambitious expressions of Soviet idealism in the modern world, culminating in his masterpiece, I Am Cuba. --Sean Axmaker

Special Features

  • New digital transfer

Product Details

  • Actors: Tatyana Samoylova, Aleksey Batalov, Vasiliy Merkurev, Aleksandr Shvorin, Svetlana Kharitonova
  • Directors: Mikhail Kalatozov
  • Writers: Viktor Rozov
  • Producers: Mikhail Kalatozov
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: Russian (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: April 30, 2002
  • Run Time: 97 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000633SD
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #51,379 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Cranes are Flying (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is one of my favorite movies. It's quality is typical of what I have come to expect of a Criterion reconstruction. Something along the lines of HDTV black and white. It's that good. The story itself is situated at the begining of Russia's Great Patriotic War (WWII). The story covers every inch of human behaviour including happiness, love, sorrow, deceit, manipulation, and heroism against all odds. The last quarter of the movie is a stunning surprise, as it builds to an ending scene that is nothing less than a grand tribute to the best of what makes us human. Even hardcore war movie fans (like me) can expect blurred vision at the end of this film. Not sappy at all, this film will strike a chord with viewers of any country, and most generations. It is not a single view disk.
I don't even know if it has an English language soundtrack, as the tonality of the Russian soundtrack combined with the very well produced English subtitles offers a great connection to the film even for non Russian speaking people. Buy this disk, you wil enjoy it over and over.
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Format: VHS Tape
I'm pleased to see "Letyat zhuravlii" available in video, and with subtitles. This is a classic Soviet film, set during the Patriotic War. It begins with the cranes flying over Moscow, and for Veronika and Boris, the stolen evening hours are idyllic. Suddenly their plans are shattered by War. When Boris goes to the front, his fiancee cherishes his farewell gift and vows to await his return. Meanwhile, Boris' cousin, Mark, who has bribed his way to a deferment, schemes to win her heart. War reaches Moscow, and Veronika's parents perish in an air raid. She takes refuge with her fiance's family, loyally resisting the treacherous advances of Mark. Anxiously she awaits letters from the front, which never come. At last, under a barrage of bombing, Veronika is overwhelmed by grief and terror, and succumbs to the cousin's wiles. At the same time, on the frontlines, alone, Boris succumbs to his wounds. Veronika, unaware of Boris' death, weds Mark but remains haunted by guilt. She flees her arrogant, abusive husband to serve as a nurse in a military hospital. When War ends, she has convinced herself that Boris will return with the cranes to Moscow. "Cranes are Flying" is a simple, tragic story, filmed artistically for its time, but without cinematic subtlety. The geometric V-formation of the flying cranes, for instance, is repeated throughout the entire film. The repetative imagery of marching feet, hurrying toward eachother but never meeting, symbolizes the futility of the protagonists' love. The scene of Boris' death is melodramatically drawn out, his final dying thoughts only of his beloved. I'm not sure of the filmmaker's intent here, but honestly, I feel only relief that the likable Boris is spared the hurt of Veronika's betrayal.Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I've never been a huge fan of soviet cinema until I saw this great movie a few months ago. Sure Eisenstein is a great director and he made wonderful classics but this is probably the first russian movie that I can identify with the characters since the Eisenstein movies and a few others that I've seen like Earth (Alexander Dovzhenko, 1930) are very political and showing me a culture and a way of life that is interesting and informative but that I can't identify with. This movie tells a simple story about a young couple (Veronika and Boris) that is separated because Boris as to go to war. I think I love this movie so much because it is so open and so full of humanity. It is also very poetic particulary when Boris is at the front and he dreams about his girl back home. But the thing that I admire the most is the superior cinematography, the camera angles are stunning and the close-ups (very close) are almost disturbing because you feel that you are spying on them or following them anywhere they go. Also, great scenes with hand held cameras and used wisely not just to use it but at chosen moments to accentuate dramatic scenes or to show chaos during this time of war. It amaze me that a great reference for cinematography like that is not use or missuse in movies today. If you can, try to catch the movie I am Cuba with the same great director and the same wonderful cinematography, the story is political but unlike early russian movies of Eisenstein and such, the characters are warmer and you can identify with them.
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Format: DVD
This is one of those few Russian films that truly has to be seen to be believed. Words simply do not do it justice. The story is simple enough. Boris and Veronika are in love with each other but when war breaks Boris volunteers for the fighting, leaving her to the care of his deceitful cousin. Now, the film itself was made during the 'Soviet Thaw' when film makers were given a bit more freedom with which to work, and it shows in the realism of The Cranes are Flying. There is no glorification of war here as it is shown for what it is, a brutal event that seperates loved ones and inevitably leads to death and sorrow for most. There is very little, if any, political propaganda to sift through and the camerawork is absolutely next level. Perhaps the only thing better than the cinematography in this movie are the performances. In fact, it could be said that the only thing more beautiful than Tatyana Samoilova herself, is the performance she gives. An incredible portrayal of a love that triumphs against all odds.
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