Shepitko’s emotionally overwhelming final film won the Golden Bear at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival and has been hailed around the world as the finest Soviet film of its decade. Set during World War II’s darkest days, The Ascent follows the path of two peasant soldiers, cut off from their troop, who trudge through the snowy backwoods of Belarus seeking refuge among villagers. Their harrowing trek leads them on a journey of betrayal, heroism, and ultimate transcendence. —The Criterion Collection
After studying in the workshop of Dovchenko and Romm, Shepitko graduated from VGIK in 1963. After an impressive diploma work (Heat) she directed Wings, a complex character study that eschewed cliche to depict the emotional gap that develops between a proud, professional woman and her estranged daughter. Though praised by critics, Wings received only a limited release by Soviet authorities. Her next project was a short film for the omnibus Beginning of an Unknown Era called “Homeland of Electricity”. Produced by Mosfilm’s ill-fated Experimental Studio, it was shelved by censors and wasn’t released until after Shepitko’s death. The high point of her career came with Ascent, which won the Golden Bear at Venice in 1977. After dying in a tragic accident in 1979, her final project, Farewell, was completed by her husband, Elem Klimov, using her script. —Seagull Films
An extraordinary film, in which any conventional, corporeal "war film" heroics are quickly discarded; what follows is a purely metaphysical exploration of cowardice, fear and guilt, as if the characters have died and are living in a purgatorial world, where the only possible salvation is that of their souls. Analogies to the tale of Christ and Judas abound, but its greatness is owed to peerless direction and acting.
One of the most powerful war films ever,yet only concerning the harrowing ordeal of two soldiers. The scene with the Russian Nazi investigator and the captured Sotnikov is acting at its most brilliant. Amazing cinematography.
Bresson, Dreyer, Tarkovsky and... Shepitko! Let's don't forget her! "The Ascent" is one of the most powerful and spiritual movies I've ever seen in my life.
Shepitko's final film before her tragic death is a gruelling and overpowering account of courage and cowardice, steeped in religious symbolism and set in the icy wastes of World War II Byelorussia. The film follows two Soviet partisans, separated from their comrades and searching for food, who are eventually captured by the German invaders and must face their fate. A masterpiece so powerful it will haunt me forever..
“The Ascent” is one of the few films, along with perhaps Lean’s 1948 version of “Oliver Twist” and Bergman’s “Persona” which could be described as “perfect”. By that I mean that it is a film where… read review