Mikhail Kalatozov
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Michail Kalatozov (1903) iniziò a girare negli anni '20 e nel 1930 realizzò uno dei migliori documentari romanzati dell'epoca, Sol Svanetie/ The Salt of Svanetia, feroce affresco della miseria contadina del Caucaso degno del coevo Buñuel. L'eccessivo sperimentalismo fotografico e tematico gli alienò però le simpatie delle autorità culturali.

Muzhestvo/ Courage (1939) and Valeri/ Chkalov (1941) were popular films about pilots.

Durante la guerra fu console a Los Angeles e al ritorno in patria svolse mansioni burocratiche a Tiflis.

Zagovor Obrechyonnikh/ Conspiracy of the Doomed (1950)

Vikhri Vrazhdebnye/ Hostile Whirlwinds (1953)

Pervyy Eshelon/ The First Echelon (1955)

Tornò alla regía nel 1950 e già nel 1954 diresse Vernye Druzja/ True Friends, una commedia che ridendo e scherzando attacca i burocrati autoritari e dogmatici.

Letyat Zhuravli/ The Cranes Are Flying (1957), adapted from Viktor Rozov's play "Vechno Zhiviye", è un melodramma totalmente alieno dagli schematismi ideologici del periodo staliniano.

Boris and Veronica are in love. They spend the night running around the city and return to their homes at sunrise. Boris is still sleeping when his family assembles to eat and the news spreads that the country is at war. Boris is one of the many young men who volunteer to defend their country. He hesitates to tell Veronica until the day he is summoned. It's the eve of her birthday. Boris leaves her a present and the squirrel that symbolizes her. The recruits leave amid grand fanfare. War brings death and destruction. Veronica losing her house and her family in a bombardment and is taken in by Boris' family. During another bombardment, while the whole family is in the shelter, Boris' cousin Mark, one of the few young men who is not in the army, and who is secretely in love with Veronica, rapes her. In the meantime Boris fights a bloody war in the steppes and one day is killed and, dreaming of his wedding with Veronica, falls in a mud pool. Back home Boris' family is evacuated like everybody else to Siberia. Veronica is the only woman whose husband lives with her (Mark), but she does not smile and moves around like a ghost, still waiting for her Boris. Boris' father is a doctor at the hospital, taking care of the wounded soldiers with his daughter Irina, and Veronica is a volunteer nurse. She realizes what people think of her when a soldier learns of his wife running away with another man: Boris' father cheers him up by telling him that his wife did not deserve him anyway if she chose a rat who didn't go to war instead of a hero. She walks out of the hospital and starts running towards the railways. She almost jumps under the train. Instead she saves the life of a little boy who was about to be run over by a truck and whose name is Boris. Her husband Mark thrives by licking up to his boss.
Mark's squalid nature comes out when he visits the usual pub (where people party while soldiers die) and takes Veronica's squirrel to bring as a birthday present for the local prostitute. They find Boris' birthday note (that Veronica never found) hidden inside the toy. When Veronica learns that Mark has taken her squirrel, she runs to the pub, takes the squirrel and reads the note. She slaps her husband repeatedly in the face. Mark's boss asks Boris' father for a favor in return for the favor he did for him, but Boris' father doesn't remember asking for any favor: it was Mark who obtained the exemption from going to war by pretending that it was a favor asked by his uncle. He lied to both of them, and avoided the draft. His uncle confronts him in front of Veronica. The evil Mark has no choice but to leave the house.
Veronica is still hoping that Boris will come back. But one day a soldier comes to bring the news of his death. Veronica still hopes. She loses all hope only when the war ends and Boris' best friend comes back. Then she accepts Boris' death. She had prepared a bouquet of flower in case Boris showed up alive. In a socialist-patriotic ending that is nonetheless moving, while the crowd is celebrating the heroes returning from the front, she hands out a flower to each of them.
The film is mostly noteworthy for the almost surrealistic shots that depict the buildings and rooms exaggerating their depth or from non-human viewpoints. In the escen of the train the camera shows the rapid flow of images as seen from the viewpoint of the train, and that flow mixes with the delirious run of Veronica. It is one of the few films of the era that can compete with contemporary painting and architecture.

Kalatozov potè finalmente dar luogo alle sue ricerche formali, che privilegiavano i primi piani e si servivano massicciamente del montaggio. Pur nei suoi limiti calligrafici e patetici, il film aprì un filone nuovo della cinematografia sovietica, quello dei sentimenti piccolo- borghesi sullo sfondo dei grandi sconvolgimenti storici. Neotpravlennoye Pismo/ The Letter That Was Never Sent (1960), un esercizio virtuosistico sull'uso della camera, pone invece gli uomini di fronte alla imponenza della natura: tre uomini e una donna alla ricerca di diamanti in Siberia muoiono uno dopo l'altro nell'impari lotta.

Ya Kuba/ I Am Cuba (1964)

Krasnaya Palatka/ Red Tent (1969) rievoca la spedizione di Umberto Nobile al Polo; anche qui la grandiosità degli scenari prende la mano al regista.

Mikhail Kalatozov died in 1973.

(Copyright © 2010 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )