Sunday, March 01, 2015

Letter Never Sent

Letter Never Sent is a 1960 Soviet drama film about a group of explorers seaching the Siberian forest for the diamonds that soil testing suggests are there. After much hardship they find diamonds, but they are cut off from their supplies by a forest fire. Will any of them survive? I enjoyed the journey.

via Daily Motion, part 1:

part 2:

DVD Talk highly recommends it, saying it's "not to be missed," and says, "It's a man vs. nature tale worthy of Werner Herzog, one with hubris, misplaced ambition, and even a touch of romance. Letter Never Sent is both human and elemental" and calls it "a wondrous thing to witness unfold."

Slant Magazine gives it 4 out of 5 stars. Rotten Tomatoes has no critics score, but the audience rating there is 83%.

TCM says,
In this film [director] Kalatozov represents something like the original source waters for one the cinema's greatest tangential histories - that of the plan sequence art film, beginning here and progressing to Tarkovsky, Jancso, Angelopoulos, Sokurov and Tarr. It's a style of cinematic experience that galvanizes your attention, as the world we see through the camera changes with movement and time, and we are free to wander around within the shots as if they're three-dimensional events. It's a shared realism in a myriad of ways a "normal" film, with all of its cutting and eye-direction, cannot touch, but the extreme sequences in this style also rope in historic, cultural, even existential thematic ideas, just by virtue of their length, complexity and scope. You can have a film tell you about man's relationship to the wilderness, or to God, or to totalitarian history. But then you can have a film hold you by the hand and take you on the tour instead. And then the experience is yours.


  1. I thought this movie was a bit melodramatic, with overtones of propaganda, but the cinematography was SO, SO good, I got lost in it, instead of the plot. I think whoever filmed this and whoever edited this movie, should have won Academy Awards. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. I didn't notice much in the way of propaganda (though I remember a bit of philosophizing in that love triangle sub-plot), but I guess the whole theme of sacrifice for the greater good could be seen as a socialist ideal. It just seemed more of a man/woman against Nature story to me. It has an epic scale.