Berlinale: Programme

Film File

Berlinale Classics

Letjat schurawli

The Cranes Are Flying

Wenn die Kraniche ziehen

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In early summer of 1941 in Moscow, Boris and Veronika are happily in love. They roam the city until the wee hours, laughing and teasing each other. Cranes fly overhead. Then the Germans invade the Soviet Union and everything changes. Boris volunteers to fight and is sent to the front. The lovers do not even have time to say goodbye. When Veronika’s parents are killed in an air raid, Boris’ family takes her in. She is lonely and discouraged, and Boris’ cousin Mark is charged with looking after her. But Mark turns out to be a cad and a thoughtless egotist, who has shirked his duty to join up. Veronika waits for Boris … Made during the period of liberalisation that followed Joseph Stalin’s death, Letyat Zhuravli represented Soviet cinema’s first international hit after World War II. Turning its back on socialist realism, the film’s expressionist, at times almost surreal images, and “unchained camera” techniques, were impressive. Instead of heroic victors, it portrays the suffering and sacrifice of the civilian population during war. The film won the Palme d’Or at Cannes in 1958. – World premiere of the digitally restored version in 2K DCP.

Michail Kalatosow

USSR 1957


98’ · Black/White · 2K DCP

Rating R12


Tatjana Samoilowa
Alexei Batalow
Wassili Merkurjew
Alexander Schworin
Swetlana Charitonowa
Walentin Subkow
Antonina Bogdanowa
Konstantin Nikitin


Michail Kalatosow
Viktor Rosow, based on his play “Večno živye” (Forever Alive, 1943)
Director of Photography
Sergei Urussewski
Marija Timofejewa
Set Construction
Jewgeni Swidetelew
Moissei Vainberg, [= Mieczysław Weinberg]
Igor Wakar

Produced by

Mosfilm Cinema Concern

World sales

Mosfilm Cinema Concern

Digitally restored version 2017
Mosfilm Cinema Concern, Moscow