146 The Cranes are Flying

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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Michael Kerpan
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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#26 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Oct 14, 2009 7:44 am

puxzkkx wrote:I must admit that I was floored by the two major tracking shots in the film - the one where Samojlova's character runs up and down the train platform as the soldiers are shipped off to war, and the one where she does the same as they return. With every face there's a story. How powerful are those two shots?!
These scenes (especially the first) were anticipated in Kinoshita's Army (probably his most interesting film ever, in terms of cinematography). I don't know that this film would have been seen in Russia generally -- but a copy may have been confiscated by victorious Soviet troops at the end of WW2.

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Re:

#27 Post by Yojimbo » Wed Oct 14, 2009 8:36 am

jbeall wrote:I'm rather shocked to see only three posts re: Cranes. I was blown away by this film, which is simply stunning.

A friend pointed out how it uses elements of neorealism, expressionism, and of course montage, and the interesting thing is that it doesn't look like an experimental mish-mash of all these styles, but integrates them all into the narrative very effectively.

The plot is fairly propagandistic, although it's quite a bit more nuanced than most of the communist kitsch that came out of the USSR in the 50s. However, the film also undermines its communist imperatives by inserting crosses all over the place (esp. the expressionist scenes). And there are just some freakin' beautiful shots, like the camera following Boris as he runs up the spiral staircase, or the long tracking shot as Boris and his fellow soldier on their reconnaissance mission in the swamp.

I'd been putting off watching Soy Cuba until I'd seen this, and now I can't wait. Still, the lack of discussing re: Cranes Are Flying is a bit puzzling--this has to be one of the more hidden gems in the criterion collection.
The stunning opening sequence on its own blew me away and prepared me for one of those films that I'm sure I'll always love.
As drama,....and for its overly melodramatic nature,....one could understand's picky people's response to it,....although perhaps the same could be said about 'The Brothers Karamazov', and it may be a Russian 'thang',......but the whole look, and style, and more importantly, due to the whole being far greater than the sum of the parts, it is entitled to dismiss any criticisms.

I much prefer it to 'I Am Cuba', which, although it looks great, owes too much debt to Eisenstein, not least, I'm convinced' , 'Que Viva Mexico', which I enjoyed far more and which I consider, even in its current patched-together form, a far superior film.

But 'Cranes' is an original.
And a Masterpiece

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Re: Re:

#28 Post by aox » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:20 am

Yojimbo wrote:The stunning opening sequence on its own blew me away and prepared me for one of those films that I'm sure I'll always love.
I absolutely agree. Still one of my favorite opening sequences.
I much prefer it to 'I Am Cuba', which, although it looks great, owes too much debt to Eisenstein, not least, I'm convinced' , 'Que Viva Mexico', which I enjoyed far more and which I consider, even in its current patched-together form, a far superior film.
I guess I am not getting the connection between Cranes and Soy Cuba. The latter has some beautiful sequences, but at times seems shoddily put together. Not to mention the documentary aspects that I don't recall at all in Cranes.

Cranes seems like it is done by a master and is well polished.

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Re: Re:

#29 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:40 am

aox wrote:I guess I am not getting the connection between Cranes and Soy Cuba. The latter has some beautiful sequences, but at times seems shoddily put together. Not to mention the documentary aspects that I don't recall at all in Cranes.

Cranes seems like it is done by a master and is well polished.
Cranes and Cuba had ths same tremendous director-cinematographer team (which also made the later Letter Never Sent) -- Kalatozov and Urusevsky. ;~}

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Re: Re:

#30 Post by aox » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:44 am

Michael Kerpan wrote:
aox wrote:I guess I am not getting the connection between Cranes and Soy Cuba. The latter has some beautiful sequences, but at times seems shoddily put together. Not to mention the documentary aspects that I don't recall at all in Cranes.

Cranes seems like it is done by a master and is well polished.
Cranes and Cuba had ths same tremendous director-cinematographer team (which also made the later Letter Never Sent) -- Kalatozov and Urusevsky. ;~}
Thanks so much! I wish I had realized that when I saw Soy Cuba for the first time a few months ago. I guess I have another excuse to rewatch it. :)

I cannot wait to see The Letter Never Sent as well.

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Re: Re:

#31 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:52 am

aox wrote:I cannot wait to see The Letter Never Sent as well.
Letter (sort of) spoiled Dersu Uzala for me. It's depiction of Siberia, despite being black and white ( ;~} ) was so much more impressive than Kurosawa's (which I saw a bit later). Mind you, the _story_ of this film is melodramatic in the extreme (and not always entirely probable) -- but this didn't really botyher me much.

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#32 Post by aox » Wed Oct 14, 2009 9:59 am

I guess I am SOL on this one. Netflix doesn't have it, my university doesn't have it, and the New York Public Library also doesn't have it.

I will have my girlfriend check Brooklyn public, but we'll see.

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#33 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:00 am

Kalatozov and Urusevsky are one of those super-rare combos-- Murnau/Freund, Mann/Alton, von Sternberg/himself (not really kidding), Carl Hoffman/Fritz Lang, maybe one or two other combos at that level.

And I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment here about Soy Cuba. It always seemed to me to be stunning cinematography in search of a film.

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#34 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Oct 14, 2009 10:15 am

aox wrote:I guess I am SOL on this one. Netflix doesn't have it, my university doesn't have it, and the New York Public Library also doesn't have it.

I will have my girlfriend check Brooklyn public, but we'll see.
There may have been an unsubbed Russian release of Letter -- but no subtitled one that I am aware of. I saw a nice new print that went traveling about a year (or two) ago.

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#35 Post by HerrSchreck » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:19 am

Pretty sure there isn't. I think what's floating around back channels is PAL bootleg DVD, perhaps from a high quality broadcast from Russia. The subs are fansubbed, but quite workable. Don't ask me where to grab it from... a contact sent me a copy graits.

Those who are (rightfully) knocked out by the Tarkovsky visual sensibility on display in Ivans Childhood, will see his visual mack-daddies on display here and in Cranes (same cutie female lead as in Cranes, here, btw). SOme screengrabs:

Image

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#36 Post by Michael Kerpan » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:25 am

Those screen shots do a reasonably good job of capturing some of the visual impact of the film as screened. ;~}

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#37 Post by aox » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:38 am

Dammit Schreck... such a tease. [-X :D

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Re: Re:

#38 Post by Yojimbo » Wed Oct 14, 2009 11:46 am

aox wrote:
Yojimbo wrote: The stunning opening sequence on its own blew me away and prepared me for one of those films that I'm sure I'll always love.
I absolutely agree. Still one of my favorite opening sequences.
I much prefer it to 'I Am Cuba', which, although it looks great, owes too much debt to Eisenstein, not least, I'm convinced' , 'Que Viva Mexico', which I enjoyed far more and which I consider, even in its current patched-together form, a far superior film.
I guess I am not getting the connection between Cranes and Soy Cuba. The latter has some beautiful sequences, but at times seems shoddily put together. Not to mention the documentary aspects that I don't recall at all in Cranes.

Cranes seems like it is done by a master and is well polished.
Agreed, and as I say, an original and, ;ipso facto', a far more satisying and rewarding work.

'Cuba' is of course stunning visually, but if you haven't seen the Eisenstein film, check it out and you might see what I mean
(incidentally, speaking of the latter,I watched his 'The General Line' for the first time a few days ago and damnit if he didn't out-Pudovkin Pudovkin with scenes of such awesome pastoral beauty that took my breath away)

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Re:

#39 Post by dad1153 » Wed Oct 14, 2009 2:35 pm

dad1153 wrote:Caught "The Cranes Are Flying" on TCM-HD over the weeknd. I loved "Ballad of a Soldier" when I saw it a few months back but "Cranes Are Flying" is even better. The camera work in this movie is just a thing of beauty, so full of energy and able to be both intimate (the close-ups of beautiful Tatyana Samojlova, or anyone lucky enough to be placed on the foreground) and sweepingly epic within the same 1:33:1 frame. I couldn't help but rewind several scenes just to admire the beauty of the compositions: Boris' 'dream' wedding on the apartment building's stairs, Veronika's mad dash after the train and her bombed-out apartment, the train station finale... just virtuoso camera work left and right that doesn't date the movie at all like a product of the 1950's. Vasili Merkuryev has a face and rotund body made for silent movies that helps his Fyodor Ivanovich character connect on-screen as a man of principle that would keep the girlfriend of his drafted son living under his roof. And even though it takes a backseat to the Vero-Boris-Mark love triangle the portrayal of wartime Russia (Stalin would have disapproved!) shows the type of sweeping motion picture spectacle that the Soviet Union machinery could deliver when it put its national film industry behind it. The only weakness (and it's more of a nitpick) is that the movie's title is inspired by the movie's only dated element: those badly-animated birds flying in formation (tsk, tsk, tsk). Masterpiece otherwise.
bunuelian wrote:This film is an absolutely essential experience for those interested in Russian film. It's a technical masterpiece, but that's a pathetically narrow place to end the appreciation of this film. It's simply great.
I went on and on in my post about the virtuoso camera work and cinematography. What I left out was that what makes these great visuals click and be memorable isn't just that they look good and marvelous (which they do) but their reason for being on the movie was to service both the story and the characters. Vero running after the train (or Boris up the apartment steps) totally tells us the state of mind these lovers are at different points of the narrative. Boris daydreaming about his wedding to Veronika totally sells us on his love and devotion to his woman. The high-angle contrasting shots of the clear streets with the barracated one's make the switch from pre-WWII to WWII Russia simple, effective and universal. Just as Vero seeing rowers in the river tells us visually (before she actually says it) that the War is over.

Sorry if my first post made it seem like I only liked "Cranes Are Flying" from an aesthetic/technical perspective. I was emotionally invested on the happiness and well-being of (some, not Mark) the characters, even though I knew there wasn't a happy ending in the cards from my previous experience watching "Ballad of A Soldier."

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#40 Post by rwiggum » Thu Mar 21, 2013 3:26 pm

Does anyone know anything about any restoration work being done on this film? With Letter Never Sent being a lower price point release, I know it's a long shot to expect it to get a Criterion Blu Ray upgrade, but I'm at least hoping someone puts out a nice HD remaster down the road. This film absolutely deserves it.

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#41 Post by nils » Mon Jul 29, 2013 1:39 pm

On Hulu in HD with hardsubs

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#42 Post by zedz » Mon Jul 29, 2013 4:30 pm

nils wrote:On Hulu in HD with hardsubs
A sentence that twenty years ago would have made no sense whatsoever.

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#43 Post by bad future » Tue May 29, 2018 3:34 pm

Somewhat old news, but this played at Berlinale in February in a new 2k restoration. (link.) Though I cant find any review from anyone who actually saw it.

Has there previously been any reliable correlation between new restorations like this and blu ray upgrades? I love this film, but could see it not being a super high priority for Criterion.

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Re: 146 The Cranes are Flying

#44 Post by nitin » Tue May 29, 2018 4:56 pm

I am really hoping for this to get upgraded this year. Ditto Ballad of a Soldier but I don’t think that’s been restored.

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