Two lovers, head over heels in love, separated and heartbroken by war and circumstance, yearning to be reunited. We have seen this story many times captured on film, in books and in poetry. But not like this. The Cranes are Flying is one of the greats of Russian/Soviet cinema, a work of pure, fearless love for the medium. Mikhail Kalatozov and his cinematographer Sergey Urusevsky approach every scene as if it must be their last, wringing every last drop of visual drama from the frame, filling it with imagination. It’s unsurprisingly and unmistakeably a huge influence on Andrei Tarkovsky, whose debut feature Ivan’s Childhood came only a few years later, bearing many of the same stylistic fingerprints. And what fingerprints! Why settle for less when cinema like this makes everything around it look workmanlike and pedestrian in comparison.