World War Ii in Film Essay

Submitted By lalalalami
Words: 776
Pages: 4

The Cranes Are Flying (1957, Mikheil Kalatozov) is a product of Khrushchev’s era when the “thaw” and “unfreezing” political signals began to shed a light on film productions after Stalin’s death in 1953. The Secret Speech given by Khrushchev at the twentieth Communist Party Congress provided the precondition for the film to be produced and released. The speech encouraged a reexamination of USSR in WWII and denunciated the development of Stalin’s cult. Changes in ideology promoted an artistic movement, such as film themes from heroizing Stalin as a single contributor to the war victory to revealing civilians’ roles and efforts in the war. Both ideologically and technically, The Cranes Are Flying is an epochal film in Russian film history, because it evoked a new recognition of female identity in the war and utilized innovative cinematography to explore individual emotion about the war that was buried under bureaucratic intervention in Stalin era.
The Cranes Are Flying depicts the protagonist Veronika as an emotional and vulnerable female, rather than a traditional Soviet female paradigm with civic virtue and readiness to sacrifice for the war. First of all, Veronika grieved about her boyfriend Boris’ joining to the front, rather than being patriotically proud to sacrifice her lover. The sadness of the separation from lover or relatives was a hidden topic in films before Khrushchev’s de-Stalinization took place, because previous Soviet leaders were reluctant to show anti-war sentiment and the trauma the war imposed on Soviet people. Another aspect that Veronika challenged a wartime heroine is her involuntary disloyalty to Boris. She surrendered to Mark, Boris’ cousin who raped her in a terrified bombing raid, and indeed she surrendered to the difficult reality where she lost her parents and faced postwar hardships. The film does not impose a negative judgment on Veronika, but merely depicts her as who she was and let viewers experience her dilemma. This realistic portray of a figure echoed Khrushchev’s advocacy of “telling the truth” to let people recognize both victory and failure in the war. Josephine Woll stated in Real Image that “The Cranes Are Flying belonged to an evolving cinematic process and to the more general cultural metamorphose of the late 1950s.” With the unfreezing social atmosphere and people’s increasing consciousness to reveal the truth of the war after Stalin era, the film can more freely express its neutral attitude towards the war and sympathy on Soviet people who endured hardships caused by the war.
From the technical perspective, the cinematographer Sergey Urusevsky applied tracking shots and crane shots not only to achieve an esthetic altitude, but also to fully display human emotions. The technology development allowed tracking shots to be taken more easily. In a scene that Boris is leaving to fight at the front, the camera followed his movement to make him the only point of view for audiences among the mass crowd. Powered by technology advancement, the tracking shot is culturally significant in embodying the individuality and human emotions that were encouraged in the Thaw era. In the final sets of scenes, along…