The Cranes Are Flying (1957 – Mikhail Kalatozov)


The Cranes Are Flying is a Soviet film, directed at Mosfilm by the Georgian-born Soviet director, Mikhail Kalatozov in 1957, about World War II. This film is about the cruelty of war and the damage suffered to the Soviet psyche because of World War II.

In Moscow lived a young couple who were deeply in love with each other, Veronica and Boris. As they were walking along the streets of Moscow, planning their marriage, they saw some cranes in the sky. Veronica who planned a rendezvous with her lover, Boris, at the bank of the river, only to realise that he was drafted into World War II shortly thereafter and they did not have the chance to say goodbye to each other. As Veronica waited for the news from Boris, she was raped by Boris’ cousin, Mark and thus, got married. But, Veronica did not forget Boris and still waits for him.

The Cranes Are Flying is a “historically significant” film which was a landmark film for the history of post-Stalin Russian cinema. It was shown at a perfect timing where the Soviet films are being shown without any obvious nationalism characterised.

In this film, Kalatozov has acknowledge the heroic acts of the Russian soldiers, however, he refuses to ignore the personal tragedy that each one of the civilians had during the war.

As Boris was sent to fight the War, Veronica fell into despair on whether Boris will ever return safely back to her. Even though, Kalatozov showed scenes of the battlergounds in the film, his main focus was to show the after effects of civilians who were left behind and were traumatized by the war, both directly and indiretly.

The use of extreme close ups as well as the use of lighting and shadow effects created a more impactful punch to the viewers. This was really effective when Boris tacked a blanket over across the window. As well as, when Boris told Veronica about him fighting in the War, the light that angled across Veronica’s face made it seem like she was really hurt by the news.

The Cranes Are Flying won the Palme d’Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, a piece of technically brilliant filmmaking, ranks amongst the best classic war movie ever made.


A scene where Veronica was seen slapping Mark, Boris’ cousin when she was raped. The flashing lights as she was about to slap him has helped in building up the suspense as he palm reached his cheek. During this time, the shadow on Mark’s face was created so as to create that illusion that Mark did not feel anything and was only interested in is beastly feelings towards Veronica.


This was where Veronica planned the rendezvous with Boris. The lighting and the angles in this scene portrays the effect of affection and love that this couple have for each other. The was they embraced in each others’ company is truly, heart warming.


Kalatozov constantly showed the battlefields where the War was happening on. This is one of the scenes whereby Veronica is seen running off to seek safety. Her facial expression as she reached a certain area where she thinks was safe, showed that she was desperate, hurt and showed that she was still waiting for her lover, Boris to return back to her, protecting her from the War.

The Cranes Are Flying is one film that is a must watch, especially for those who’s interested in action, romance and history. The way Mikhail Kalatozov potrayed each scene as he progresses to the end is really wonderful. I was in awe as I watched the progress of the film. This is one film that will take you on a bumpy ride as it showed the different scenes, from the love and happy scenes to the heart wrenching and devastating scenes. It really made me emotional as I put myself in Veronica’s shoes and felt what she was feeling at that particular scene, not being able to say goodbye to her lover and then being married off to Mark, Boris’ cousin, because she was raped by him.

The Cranes Are Flying is an interesting film and I encourage everyone to watch it. One film not to be missed.

 About the Author: Syara Shah loves doing sports, dance and starts her creative juices going once she’s in her zone.


  1. The Cranes Are Flying Trailer – brownprawn on December 11, 2008. Retrieved from Youtube on June 21, 2013.                                                   (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTxKVQfNWQI)
  2. Cranes Are Flying by Mikhail Kalatozov 1957 – Scott Renshaw on August 27, 2006. Retrieved from Movie MasterWorks on June 21, 2013.(http://moviemasterworks.com/blog/2006/08/27/the-cranes-are-flying-by-mikhail-kalatozov-1957/)
  3. The Cranes Are Flying directed by Mikhail Kalatozov – Joana Morais on August 15, 2010. Retrieved form Joana Morais Website on June 21, 2013.                                    (http://joana-morais.blogspot.com/2010/08/sunday-movie-cranes-are-flying-directed.html)

One thought on “The Cranes Are Flying – 1957

  1. Hi Syara,

    Very detailed summary of the film, I think you can squeeze in the fact that the movie was made during a certain era (time before the war) made it a film that related to many people of that certain generation. Also, was the film allowed to be shown overseas at it’s point of release? At what point in time did it show the rest of the world the struggles of the Soviets and did it arouse sympathy? From which countries and did it impact or possibly influence the signing of treaties in any way?

    The movie could also be a breakthrough in terms of feminism, since the men voiced out his plight, but being the more sensitive sex, Veronique did not speak up for her own plight. Did it showcase double standards of society for the different genders?

    Also, I find that this is a highly emotive film, so it is understandable that you seemed to lean towards a certain viewpoint. However, I find that it would be better to balance out your essay with more objective vocabulary. 🙂

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