Mikhail's Kaltozov's brilliant The Cranes are Flying is a landmark film, a fresh and liberating story that is considered not only one of the very first but also one of the very best of the post-Stalin cinema. The film tells a simple and old fashioned story about a patriotic and heroic boy who volunteers to defend his homeland, leaving his lover alone to wait for his inevitable return while he is sent to the front lines. When the film was released it became an international success winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes and being hailed as a revelation for the Soviet cinema. And yet even today contemporary viewers will find the film just as equally profound and powerful as viewers did when the film was first released, because it explores such universal and timeless themes that men go through when away from their loved ones, and what women go through when helplessly waiting for their return.
When Stalin's death occurred in 1953 following the Khrushchev's denunciation of the Twentieth Communist Party Congress in February 1956, that resulted in what many called a 'thaw' which was a feeling that occurred throughout the public and culture of the Soviet Union. Because of this thaw, Soviet cinema was finally able to to release a film like Kaltozov's The Cranes are Flying, which abandoned the monotonous cliches and optimism of the Stalin era and represented the horrific and traumatic reality of what the Soviet people had to endure through World War II. What makes The Cranes Are Flying especially extraordinary is the beautiful handheld camerawork which was done by Sergei Urasevsky. Some of the most beautiful sequences in the film involve the love stricken Veronica as she weaves in and out of traffic frantically searching for her loved one, excitingly dashes up a winding staircase and rushes alongside a moving train.