The Letter Never Sent

[Неотправленное письмо]

(1959) USSR

Directed by Mikhail Kalatozov

Written by Grigorii Koltunov, Valerii Osipov, and Viktor Rozov. Cinematography by Sergei Urusevskii. Art Direction by David Vinitskii. Music by Nikolai Kriukov. With Tat'iana Samoilova, Innokentii Smoktunovskii, Galina Kozhakina, Vasilii Livanov, and Evgenii Urbanskii.

In Russian with English subtitles

After long and strenuous work, when all food supplies had been exhausted, autumn cold had arrived, and no hope remained, a team of young geologists finally find the long sought diamonds. But the next morning brings a raging forest fire that cuts the explorers off from their canoe with food and supplies. They were four souls alone in the taiga who not only had to save their own lives but also pass on the location of the diamonds found in Bolshaya Zemlya.

Mikhail Kalatozov (1903–1973) worked in cinema since 1923. His Salt for Svanetia (1930) is a remarkable example of poetic documentary cinema. During the Thaw, Kalatozov made several outstanding films with the actress Tat'iana Samoilova and the cameraman Sergei Urusevskii. Their 1957 film The Cranes are Flying received the Palme d'or at the Cannes Film Festival and brought international accleaim to Soviet cinema. In his later years, Kalatozov made several co-productions, the most famous of which are I Am Cuba (1964, w/Cuba)—about the Cuban revolution, and The Red Tent (1970, w/Italy, starring Sean Connery)—about W. Nobile's expedition to the North Pole.