Long cited by Francis Ford Coppola as a major influence on Apocalypse Now, Letter Never Sent is the least well known of three historic collaborations between two talented Russian filmmakers — director Mikhail Kalatozov and cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky — in the late ’50s and early ’60s. Like the pair’s two other films, I Am Cuba and The Cranes are Flying, Letter Never Sent blends a flawed, Soviet-approved narrative with wildly imaginative visuals. This tale of four geologists (three men and one woman) searching for diamonds in the Siberian wilderness moves awkwardly from romantic entanglements to a struggle with the elements, but the stylized black-and-white images of man-versus-nature carry unforgettable power. Image quality is sharp and beautifully textured, especially given the time and place in which the film was made. Audio is as clean as possible but severely limited by the original source. The only extra is a nicely designed printed booklet.
Video: 1080p, 1.33:1. Audio: LPCM Mono. Extras: Illustrated booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Dina Iordanova. Studio: Criterion.