It took almost 30 years until someone applied some of the multitude of the camera and cinematographic techniques of Dziga Vertov in “Man with a movie camera” into a film with storyline. That one surprisingly came once again from Russia and was Mikhail Kalatozov who masterfully from the start to end used camera, cinematography, hence the powerful visual effects of cinema into a gripping melodrama. “The Cranes Are Flying”, a sweet love story in blooming, withers by the start of invasion of the Nazis to Russia, along with the loss of many other dreams, hopes and lives. The only Soviet film to win the Palme d’Or, the grand prize of the Cannes Film Festival, was written by Victor Rozov, cinematography by Sergey Urusevsky and Mikhail Kalatozov and the music score of Moisey Vaynberg. Unfortunately film itself not as much as the film’s main protagonist, Tatyana Samojlova who played the role of Veronika, the young beautiful broken hearted lover attracted the attention of the western critics and millions of Europeans at the time.
An Ultimate Cinematic Experience:
The Georgian Mikhail Kalatozov changed many professions before starting his film career as an actor and later on a cinematographer, before directing films. He first experimented his talent in several documentaries before creating his first major feature, “The Cranes Are Flying”. Then he made a few others, “The unsent letter” (1959), “I Am Cuba” (1964), and “The Red Tent” (1969). Surprisingly and despite its great win at the Cannes’, the film was mostly an accolade even by the critics for its sensitive and heart breaking story, the captivating beauty, gentleness and superb acting of Tatyana Samojlova, and not much for its great filmmaking. The simple free hand-held camera and cinematographic work of Sergey Urusevsky is an exemplary piece of filmmaking.
The film opens with un-feared well-fed extreme camera shots from different angles, long and close up like “Man with a movie camera”, but not for a cinematic experiment, but conveying emotions and the love relationship of a young couple, Veronika (Tatyana Samojlova) and Boris (Aleksey Batalov). Right from the start we see how the camera and cinematography used to portray feelings, first joy and happiness, then loss, failure, guilt, disappointment, disgust, confusion, hatred, humanity, belonging, dedication and more. The camera work and cinematography like the tempo and the emotions in the film is uninterrupted all the way from the start to finish, with the acting and music score all complement each other.
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