Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Letyat zhuravli


Some weeks ago I saw the movie Letyat zhuravli (The Cranes Are Flying), directed by Mikheil Kalatozishvili. I was swept away! This old Russian movie has raised several questions in my head but more than anything I find myself wondering should one really keep paying for the rest of his/her days for the mistake (if it was a mistake) that was made at one point in one’s life. I guess many will say it depends on the mistake itself.


The mistake was infidelity. Although, I really can’t tell if it was infidelity or the girl was raped (as someone said), or perhaps it was a moment of weakness. But I can tell one thing, I was ready to forgive her just about anything, that great and honest was her suffering. She suffered so much that I could hardly bear it!



Letyat zhuravli is a war movie in the terms of time, space and circumstances but not really in the terms of the story itself. It is a bit hard to explain. The director put a great deal of different emotions and aspects while developing the story and characters. There are no epic scenes of the battles or Nazis marching through Russia. Quite contrary. The director decided to show us people and their stories, and some of the sufferings of the human souls are equal and same in the time of peace and in the time of war. That is exactly what makes this movie interesting and different. Also, the camera work is simply astonishing! I mean, I truly couldn’t believe my eyes considering the year in which this movie is made. Scenes, angles, light, all was absolutely amazing, a masterpiece of cinematography! I say you must see this movie. And you’ll need this as well.



I won’t say more about the story. It won’t be interesting if I reveal everything and there is definitely a lot to be seen.


This astonishing movie was released in 1957, and according to some reviews, the silence in the theater was profound. I wish I was there…


16 comments:

Steve said...

I like this series, especially the second shot. Powerful images.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the links

Lorri said...

This sounds like a very compelling film.

Milena said...

Hi Lorri! I think I've mentioned you Letyat zhuravli in my e-mail, right after I saw the movie. I have DVD and hopefully we will see each other soon so you will have it as well :D

Lorri said...

Yes, Milena...you did mention it. :)

Nikola said...

Sounds great. Where do you find all those underground movies?

Milena said...

Nikola, most of my movies are from The Criterion Collection but you can find lots of it online.

the art of memory said...

it sure is a beautifully shot film, stunning.
i have heard that von sternberg said he would be ok with looking at his film silent, backwards and upside down, i guess meaning that the visuals of the film were very important to him, and that they stood on thier own, without the plot. not that the plot was not important or secondary, but that the images were that strong. it would be fun to watch this film that way maybe.

Milena said...

Yes. It is totally possible and I can easily imagine it.

Neo said...

Unforgettable movie! Thank you so much Milena!

Anonymous said...

Milena, I too love the very old movies... when there was more emphasis on the dramatic representation, that brought on emotional response, be it suspense, mystery, romance... rather than the horrific visions that more modern movies reveal. So do not worry what other people will say about the old movies... you are posting about what touches you, and it is good when it can touch another. If it does not, oh well. One of my favorite old movies is called Rebecca.

Milena said...

Hitchcock’s Rebecca? Yes, absolutely amazing movie! How can anyone forget Manderley and its atmosphere?! Hitchcock is a master of suspense. I like his movies.

The entire Rebecca's cast was perfect but Judith Anderson gave me chills! She was brilliant.

Anonymous said...

She was, indeed, an evil one. I was mesmerized by Joan Fontaine's face... and, of course, Laurence Olivier could not be matched. The book was wonderful, the movie was just as wonderful... and I even listened to a book on tape, and it was wonderful, too.

Paul C. said...

I was lucky enough to see this on the big screen a few months ago. Such a powerful film. It actually felt a little like a war film as directed by Jacques Demy, given the complicated, lyrical emotion of the film. And the camera work is stunning.

Incidentally, Toronto? Amazing. If you ever get a chance to go to the film festival there, I highly recommend it.

Kahl said...

It is movies like this one that inspire me. I would love one day to own a theatre devoted to these gems that so few people take the time to see because they "don't want to read while watching a movie." Fools, all of them.

The cranes are Flying said...

I saw the movie last week. I was moved the way I have not been in a very long time, maybe -- never. It is a masterpiece. Besides the incomparable photography, outstanding acting -- its key element is the unique turn where we know early on that the hero has been killed, but the heroine does not know. We watch her living and waiting for him and we know there is no hope. Unbearable.

I am glad you get the greatness of this film reading the subtitles and without the Soviet background. I grew up there and for me it is easy to be fully absorbed. Now that i know an English speaker can get it as well -I will recommend it to my friends.

I am glad to see that there are others that share my admiration for this masterpiece of a movie.

Thanks