How to recognize a masterpiece ?. No doubt the Russian filmmakers achieved the expertise of taking us through powerful images to the most recondite places of the human being. The light in the middle of the war: through a look. A strict and poetic use of cinema using and channeling the full force of cinematographic language.
What is it to be facing death? How as conscious animals do we face our ultimate end? The film seemingly creates a black/white world by utilizing the hero trope but Shepitko's metaphysical exploration of humanity showcases how we exist in a gray world. Elemental and peerless. She truly came before her time.
I saw someone accuse this film of hero porn, suggest if it was Hollywood we would turn our nose at it. The funniest shit is in Hollywood never would these characters exist in this fashion, the "hero" (I guess he was) die without some kind of Braveheart like triumph and the traitor languish in some kind of Chekhovian purgatory as its end. Its SO Russian. I respect the capture of the contradictions of ones "ethics"
A mesmerizing, intense, and physically driven piece of war cinema with an atmospheric soundtrack just as harsh as the unrelenting landscape the characters suffer through. People often compare this film to the work of Tarkovsky, while there are similarities, I would say it's more of a precursor to the work of Béla Tarr with how Shepitko utilizes a more contemplative approach to capture austere and bleak imagery.
A very seductive film. Hero porn works this way. Let us NOT praise heroes and martyrs. "[We] perpetuate war by exalting its sacrifices." "We shall never end wars by blaming it on ministers and generals or warmongering imperialists. It's the rest of us who build statues to those generals, and name boulevards after those ministers. The rest of us who make heroes of our dead and shrines of our battlefields."
Movies like The Ascent are why I subscribe to Mubi and Filmstruck. I'd never heard of the film, the director or any of the actors. But, I couldn't take my eyes off this movie. It's both searing and sublime, beautiful and ugly. In short, a rare cinematic accomplishment.
One of the most five qualified film i've ever seen. Like a hidden treasure. Most important aspect of this film is being filmed by a woman director. The film reflects the feeling about the human, death and war. Those who love cinema art must watch this magnificent film.
How much more pretentious and kitsch can you get than a retelling of Jesus Christ set in WW2 where the Nazis swap the Romans? If this was made in Hollywood, it would have been laughed at, but because it's made in Mother Russia and sort of resembles a Tarkovky film, its been hailed as great. Seriously, people need to get over the so-called Russian Soul bullshit. The performances and small moments redeem it slightly.