The Cranes Are Flying

Director: Mikhail Kalatozov
Year Released: 1957
Rating: 2.0

First act is lovey-dovey and 'aren't the cranes lovely' sky-gazing, the heroine beaming and happy, her suitor, who calls her "Squirrel," desperately in love – so in love that he doesn't have time to be jealous of her – until he makes the hasty decision to leave her and fight in the war. The film then proceeds to punish her (and have her punish herself) in a fashion befitting Falconetti in the Passion of Joan of Arc. She marries a man she doesn't love (she doesn't put up a struggle) but still obsessively waits for letters from her old boyfriend, and, at every turn, looks downright anguished, courtesy of the kind of strong lighting and close-ups Marlene Dietrich would demand. The director gets a little too creative with the camera, often times situating it at the actors' knee-level and shooting upward - the movie's self-consciousness, copious symbolism and obnoxious 'style' are all glaring flaws.