Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Location: milwaukee, wi

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Cranes Are Flying (Mikhail Kalatozov, 1957)

I fond the above poster at Stale Popcorn, on the list of best film posters ever. I agree that the poster is gorgeous: effortlessly beautiful and symbolic, and still distinctly Soviet. That poster succeeds in portraying the film in a way that the American poster really doesn't. But no matter how beautiful the poster is, and how beautiful the movie itself is, I never felt myself particularly moved or swayed by the movie's actions.

Veronica and her fiancee Boris are torn apart by World War II, when Boris heroically enlists to help save his country. Veronica also loses her parents (in the one really emotionally resonant scene for me in the movie), and moves in with Boris' family, including his cousin Mark, who is hopelessly in love with Veronica. He's also a scumbag who won't take no for an answer, and tries to force himself time and time again on Veronica. The feminist/progressive defense of accepting a man because you can no longer hold your own in the world is an interesting and provocative one, but alas, Kalatozov doesn't really go that route. Veronica instead becomes a heroine of the war, working in a hospital with Boris' father. When the inevitable happens, it's sad, but not unexpected nor emotionally engaging. This seems more like a Soviet melodrama than a profound statement on war and female engagement in the world. The propagandist ending, with Veronica handing out flowers to her comrades and looking forward to a brave new world, was so ridiculous I actually laughed. For resonant drama, look elsewhere, but The Cranes Are Flying is beautifully photographed and has beautiful actors.


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