Struggle for survival on the Siberian frontier, directed with searing intensity by Mikhail Kalatozov and featuring the dynamic, visceral cinematography of Sergei Urusevsky, gripping score, startling spatial sound effects, and another heartfelt, impassioned performance from Tatyana Samojlova.
one of the most harrowing and gorgeous films ever to dance in my retinas. such iconic imagery and camerawork. wonderful, fleshy human characters. becalmed by nature, the toil of civilized endeavour proves to be worth fighting for. for our comrades. for our loves. if we as a species could locate ourselves amongst the river. for it is swift, and it flows, and not easily frozen in winter. our souls whisper a scream...
A stunning craft went into this film, although its formal beauty and elegiac qualities are severely undermined by its nationalistic hollering and pacing problems, but its film language is so refined, the camera movements so sumptuous it makes for an almost obligatory viewing.
I don't like this anywhere near as much as I Am Cuba, or even The Cranes Are Flying. I think part of it is that the film starts as a menage a trois melodrama and then becomes something else entirely -it's as if it can't decide what film it wants to be. And however beautifully composed the images are, silhouettes get boring after seeing them on screen constantly for ten minutes at a time.
This is likely the most incredible handheld camera work I’ve ever seen. There are some truly inspiring, jaw-dropping moments in this film, things I really don’t think I’ve ever seen before. It’s kind of a shame the story itself can’t bear the weight of the phenomenal filmmaking going on here. It’s very, very good, but it has a few shortcomings.
It is amazing this astounding hallucinogenic masterwork has lain unknown since the late 1950's. Perhaps now in perspective we can understand Tarkovsky more as Kalatazov imbues the natural world with its own mystical terrors, and wonders, in highly expressionistic cinematography, music, and sound. The film also evokes another planet, hostile, unforgiving, returning human life to the cold, cruel earth, rivers and sky.