The Crane Are Flying Kalatozov Analysis

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Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes Are Flying (1957) follows the simple love of two Soviet citizens while showing the brutal reality of war and the ability to continue living and functioning as the world is upended. Narratively, this film is a break from those that preceded it—earlier films of the decade had far more positive outlooks on the war (propaganda). This film’s narrative, however, evoked the actual emotions those going through the war felt. Similarly, this film broke stylistically from earlier Soviet films, using techniques that harken back to the Soviet Montage era of silent filmmaking. The film boldly experiments with camera angles, editing, long takes and close-ups, and perspective shots to create an emotionally affecting story. In …show more content…
The average shot length of this scene is 8.2 seconds. However, there’s quite a range of lengths, going from two seconds to 20. This variation adds a frantic nature to the montage. More importantly, Kalatozov twists the use of long takes in this scene. Throughout the film, long takes provide immediate access to character emotions. On the surface, the use of a long take in the montage is visually similar. The audience sees the contentment of the couple in shot 10, but the purpose of this isn’t to make the audience feel their happiness. Instead, the audience knows that Boris is dying (and the disturbing auditory and visual distortions highlight this) and the audience is inclined to experience sorrow instead. Kalatozov also keeps the long shots interesting by having a lot going on in the frame. The long shots allow a lot of carefully blocked action to occur and the frame is never visually boring. For example, shot 10 clocks in at twenty seconds (the longest shot of the scene). There’s frequent movement across the frame, from the overlaid images to the slow movement of the wedding veil being thrown back. Shot 8 is a flashback to the long take of Boris running up the stairs from earlier. It’s a terrific shot—Kalatozov could have simply shown Boris running up some stairs, cutting to when he reached the door, but he chose to visually express an emotion instead. …show more content…
Boris going off to war and dying in battle is hardly a surprising twist and the film never pretends it is. The film, instead, is about the impact of these events on its characters. The film absolutely needs the audience to care about Veronika and Boris. All the stylistic choices serve to align the audience with the couple and sympathize with them. The long takes, mixed together with frequent close-ups (and changes in framing) are emotionally hitting because they are frequently used to demonstrate the current experience of a character. The film uses POV shots to literally join the audience with the character. And in Boris’ death montage overlaid images, editing, and sound (particularly the soldier’s shouting) are used to not only narratively convey that a death is occurring, but to also have the audience experience the feeling of dying (or rather, the feeling of dying as imagined by the director). The film’s message is simple—not everything in life works out, sometimes it can be devastating, but that’s life. The characters have to learn to move on and keep living. By carefully manipulating the film’s style and setting a pattern from the very first scene, Kalatozov is able to guarantee that the audience sympathizes with Veronika and Boris and that by the end of the film, the audience understands and feels Veronika’s

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