230 of 1001 Movies: Cranes Are Flying (1957)

One of the benefits of doing a huge movie list is being exposed to moves from all over the world that show many perspectives of one event that much of the world lived through. Cranes Are Flying shows Russia’s impact on families as men were drafted to war. This isn’t a war movie in the traditional sense of showing us what it was like to go to battle. Instead this turns the spot light on the families that were left at home after the men able to go to war were drafted.

Summary: Veronica and Boris are in love, and they have plans to marry. They’re life seems like a dream, until one day the Soviet Union is called to war. Instead of waiting to be drafted, Boris volunteers to go to war. This angers Veronica, but many men were wanting to fight with the pride they felt for their country. Veronica is left to an uprooted life though, and one that will make many transitions without Boris. She find her and her family are both going to face their own horrors of war attacks right in their home, and while Boris is gone Veronica finds that suitors are wanting her attention she is unable to give.

Acting: Tatyana Samoylova became a hit from this movie after her portrayal of Veronica. I did think some minor bits of her acting were a bit overdone, but she overall she brings a lot of strength and innocence to a character in the middle of what she is experiencing. Seeing her transition from the beginning to end was powerful, and it isn’t till the end of the movie you see just how much she has matured. Mark is one of the men who pursues her despite her lack of interest, and really plays the biggest jerk. I felt more disdain after the movie went off, and put together several events in the movie. The portrayal of Boris wasn’t one to ponder long, but I did feel the chemistry between him and Veronica. Fyodor was the only other character I really liked, as he seemed to be more of an upright character.

Filming: The movie is beautifully put together with frightening scenes that almost put you in a trance. There are scenes where characters are realizing their mortality, or Veronica is in a panic that has a lot of scenes put together to make shots and transitions that seem very artsy, and capture that the terror and loss that the director is going for. He also goes for interesting angles in his shots that provide perspectives of the character that make them look terrifying, or to increase the terror of the person. The apartment bomb scene with Veronica and Mark is terrifyingly put together with the use of shadows and light.

Plot: The plot ends on a sad, but more hopeful note. I thought that within the last couple of minutes you see a lot of development for the character, Veronica. I am still debating whether only an hour and a half is enough to hash out this plot though. While the movie did have slow moments I wonder with more room to develop if there would have been that deeper connection to the characters that was was missing for most of it. Veronica just never seems to really feel like more than a character on the screen. The story is well done, the characters are well written, and the movie is well shot, but something keeps the movie on the screen and not with the viewer’s feelings.

I’m sure people who watched this movie and lived through what it showed felt much differently though. It sounds like the topic of draft dodging was all but taboo in Russia till this movie aired for audiences. It sounds like many were trying to show the pride they thought they should have for their country they hadn’t even allowed themselves to grieve their losses till seeing the freedom Veronica had they wanted to have.

Rating 7.5 of 10.

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