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Letter Never Sent
BLU-RAY disk
03.30.2012 By: Mathew Plale
Letter Never Sent order
Director:
Mikhail Kalatozov

Actors:
Innokenti Smoktunovsky
Yevgeny Urbansky
Tatyana Samoilova

Rating:
Movie:
Extras:
Overall:

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WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Four geologists on a diamond expedition in the Central Siberian Plateau find themselves struggling with Mother Nature's wrath.
IS IT A GOOD MOVIE?
Mikhail Kalatozovís Letter Never Sent (1959) finds four geologists on a diamond expedition in the Central Siberian Plateau. The crew of three men and one woman are dropped off by helicopter, with only a radio to contact with their base.

They imagine finding the pipe, and daydream about streets and restaurants being named in their honor. But the film turns out to not be about the mission really, as the discovery is only a third of the way in. It is also not about the letters, though these aid to the charactersí development. (One letter is from Sabinin (Innokenti Smoktunovsky) to his wife; the other is from Sergei (Yevgeni Urbansky) to the expeditionís sole female (Tatyana Samojlova).

Letter Never Sent, then, is about Mother Natureís unwillingness to let them go back to Moscow and bring news of the wealth. They have lost communication, but are trapped more by the elements. When a vicious and unrelenting firestorm breaks out, it engulfs the scenery and the characters. It calls to mind the opening, where cinematographer Sergey Urusevky (who also shot Kalatozovís The Cranes Are Flying (1957) and I Am Cuba (1964)) shrouds the four geologists and risks losing them in the brush and wilderness.

Letter Never Sent may not be remembered for the story, but its striking black and white cinematography--some of the finest Russia has ever produced--alone makes it worth seeing.
THE EXTRAS
Included with this Criterion Collection Blu-ray is a 16-page booklet with an essay titled ďRefining FireĒ by film scholar Dina Iordanova.
FINAL DIAGNOSIS
Mikhail Kalatozovís Letter Never Sent tells of four geologists struggling with discoveries, secrets and the wrath of Mother Nature. The cinematography, which is some of the most striking in Russian cinema history, is presented in a flawless 1080p video transfer that will please any admirer of black and white photography. That is the only technical draw of this Blu-ray, though, as there are no special features on the disc.
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