Mikhail Kalatozov THE CRANES ARE FLYING could be discussed from a multitude of angles. We could say  that its the second Soviet film to win the Palme D’or in Cannes in 1958. A rare achievement then and now. We could mention its director Kalatozov created 3 masterpieces back to back. All while working within Stalin’s Soviet Union. All visually stunning. All charged, be it emotionally or historically. Or we could mention its setting. Soviet Russia at the brink of war and through to its conclusion.

Fyodor Ivanovich is a doctor. He lives with his son, Boris,  daughter, Irina and his mother. Boris’s girlfriend, Veronika, wants her beau to live with her. They could walk the Moskva, dance the streets and embrace in the barricades. But the War is coming. The call to arms has been cried and the young men are ready to stand for freedom and the ultimate cost. Veronika must let him go. Never sure if she will see him again. Never really sure if anyone knows that they are in love. That her life will be empty without Boris at her side…But she must go on..

Within 15 minutes of the opening, or couple are divided and their lives are set apart. But as THE CRANES ARE FLYING flows, unceasingly like the Moskva river, you know their love is as deep and as powerful. But the film is not really about there love. Its about the state of the nation post World War. Wives without husbands, mothers, fathers. New families. The personal as a reflection of the nation state. Told with a rich, visual sense that owes a debt to expressionism. Written on the face of youth is so much experience. Her life, as that of her country is a tangle of loss and pain. However it builds anew. Builds on the foundations of lore. Builds a better character. Even a better future.


Mos film give us a 2k restoration that Criterions release brings to the fore. The cinematography of Kalatozov (See I AM CUBA) is adventurous and compelling. It has a lease of life again. The bold compositions, diverging lines and weighted movements are frankly amazing to look at again!


Ian Christie piece directs us to the reason why this is such a distinct film. I have studied under Christie and he knows his stuff. But this is only the third most interesting extra here. The best Hurricane Kalatozov, is a tale of politics and censorship. Really interesting and a great leaping off point. The second best. The documentary on  Sergey Urusevsky. Watch it knowing nothing and you will be so rewarded.

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with scholar Ian Christie on why the film is a landmark of Soviet cinema
  • Audio interview from 1961 with director Mikhail Kalatozov
  • Hurricane Kalatozov, a documentary from 2009 on the Georgian director’s complex relationship with the Soviet government
  • Segment from a 2008 programme about the film’s cinematography,
  • featuring original storyboards and an interview with actor Alexei Batalov
  • Interview from 2001 with filmmaker Claude Lelouch on the film’s French premiere at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Chris Fujiwara

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