The ascent

The ascent

DVD - 2008 | Russian
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Tracks two Byelorussian peasant soldiers - one on the path to redemption, the other to hell - as they try to evade Nazi forces during World War II.
Publisher: [Irvington, NY?] : The Criterion Collection, c2008.
Characteristics: 1 videodisc (109 min.) : sd., b&w ; 4 3/4 in.
Alternative Title: Voskhozhdeniye


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Green_Bird_203 Jun 15, 2015

Brilliant film, excellent performances.

Froster Jun 02, 2015

Oh, man—this was a tough one. Usually there is some release, or wrong move, or overstatement when it comes to films about Nazi occupation, but there is nowhere to hide in The Ascent. It is unrelievedly grim, and full-on all of the time. It is also pretty extraordinary. The tactility of the shooting, the merciless landscape, the sheer commitment of the actors and the skill of the film-maker are something to behold. However, it isn’t easy. The harshness and the starkness and the brutality of each situation is fully mined, and the only trace of sentimentality is the somewhat Jesus-like aura that Shepitko lays onto one of the characters. Without that, I suppose, the film would tip into existential despair. But it feels as if that’s where the director honestly wanted to go. (Perhaps she should have).

Jan 03, 2015

As the film begins we are faced with an arctic vista of sleet and ice when suddenly, out of a snowbank, a ragtag group of Russian partisans slowly rise like dispirited wraiths amongst the bare trees and frozen earth. Thus begins Larisa Shepitko’s grueling story of two soldiers struggling to stay alive in WWII Russia while still remaining true to their principles. The two men, Kolya and Sotnikov, are sent on a quest by the partisan commander to try and procure much needed food and supplies for the suffering troop. Their journey quickly becomes an odyssey as they encounter the many faces of war; from an elderly collaborator to a struggling widow with three young children to feed. But it is when they are captured by German forces that they face their greatest challenge in the form of a Russian Nazi interrogator who offers them life in exchange for denouncing their beliefs and betraying their comrades. As one man steadfastly refuses to break faith with his cause, even unto death, the other begins to waiver in his convictions, terrified at the prospect of torture and execution. This is when the film takes an unexpected spiritual turn as events in the German detention centre begin to mirror the Passion of Christ complete with temptations, betrayals, and the long march to Calvary. Rife with religious imagery played out against bleak winter landscapes, Shepitko uses B&W cinematography to wring every nuance out of a fall of snow or a trembling shadow. She shifts effortlessly between a handheld verité style and long dreamlike passages which are visually arresting yet do not weaken the film’s underlying gravity. The final scenes of salvation and damnation are delivered with such overpowering intensity I was tempted to hit the pause button just to catch my breath. A classic whose influence can be seen in later films such as Come and See and Aleksei German’s The Last Train.

Circe598 Dec 25, 2011

Russian films are brilliant, The Ascent being a case in point. The mood is beyond grim yet deeply spiritual. I have never seen warfare depicted in this way: much death, little blood, but extreme humanity.
Acceptance of death, stoicism, a willingness to endure extreme conditions--a part of the Russian soul.

also see: Ivan's Childhood and everything by Tarkovsky.

Jun 14, 2010

What a brilliant film. Compelling story of moral choice, with memorable characters and an unforgettable visual style. Highly recommended.


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Apr 18, 2013

О судьбе двух партизан, попавших в плен к фашистам, о мужестве и трусости, о достоинстве и неодолимой силе духа.


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