One Scene: The Cranes Are Flying
By Haskell Wexler
I first saw Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes Are Flying in Chicago in 1957. The film’s cinematography, by the great Sergei Urusevsky, has been a major influence on my career. The shot in the film that stands out most for me starts at about twenty-five minutes in. It begins handheld, when the character Veronica looks out the window of a bus, and continues out into a vast crowd of people. Then there’s a fast lateral movement going out of the bus and past a car, which could be just a great handheld move or was perhaps done on an improvised dolly. We can see a wide street through the crowd. Veronica stops for a beat of three seconds at the edge of the boulevard—at this moment, a crane seat was slipped under Sergei. The camera then cranes up to see the tanks and a wide view of the crowd.
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