Tuesday, March 27, 2012

LETTER NEVER SENT (Russian) (1959)

There is something so introspective and evocative the way Russian filmmakers used visuals in their cinema. Mikhail Kalatozov’s this film begins with a splendid helicopter shot where we see four men landed up in the stream of river, shot slowly starts distancing showing us the size and scope of men as tiny amid indifferent wilderness of Siberian nature. A group of four geologists from Moscow set up their diamond expedition. Along with struggling journey we also follow their personal yearning as one man keep writing letters to her beloved, two lovers indulge sharing their togetherness and than a man who keeps following his instinct keeping logic and reasoning on backseat. After long struggle when they found the source of diamonds, a natural calamity strikes and what follows is one tragedy leading to another. It conveys human limitation and helplessness in the indifferent nature where everything turned as illusive as their ill luck. Not only diamonds but even love- something rarer than diamonds also proved as mirage for all of them!     

The backbone of this film is its visually stunning B&W camera work by Sergei Urusevsky; the same genius who shot Kalatozov’s earlier masterpiece ‘The Cranes are Flying’. The man brilliantly captured the remote Siberian land and river streams in its entire bleak wilderness. One can see the authenticity in those flaming frames of forest followed by rain and finally a deadly chilling snow fall. Along with earlier mentioned beginning helicopter shot, the film bears stamp of innovative wide shots, evocative close ups and daring ground shots; surely a reference material for American Cinema.

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