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The film is based on the eponymous book by Valery Osipov. Four geologists are searching for diamonds in the wilderness of Siberia. After a long and tiresome journey they manage to find their luck and put the diamond mine on the map. The map must be delivered back to Moscow. But on the day of their departure a terrible forest fire wreaks havoc, and the geologists get trapped in the woods.Written by
Mikhail Kalatazov is best known for 1957's The Cranes Are Flying and 1964's I Am Cuba. This is the film he made between those. It also contains cinematography by Sergei Urusevsky. That's its best aspect, for sure, and much like those other two films, it's a gorgeous piece of pure cinema. The story concerns four geologists (including The Cranes Are Flying's lead actress, Tatyana Samoilova) who have been dropped off in remote Siberia to search for diamonds. The initial plot concerns a love triangle between Samoilova and two of the men (while the third man writes the titular letter to his wife). Soon the melodramatic plot line falls to the wayside when the four are trapped in an enormous forest fire. It then becomes a desperate tale of survival. It's actually quite gripping, and the photography is so utterly stunning you can't help but be awestruck.
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