In a freezing cold World War II winter, two pro-Soviet partisans - Sotnikov and Rybak - head off to find food for themselves and their compatriots. They find a goat at a local farmhouse but...
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A fascinating and human portrayal of a once-famous fighter pilot and loyal Stalinist named Nadezhda Petrovna. Now a 41-year-old provincial schoolmistress, she has so internalized the ... See full summary »
Three unconnected episodes united by a common theme: the establishment of the Soviet rule in Russia during the civil war of the early 1920s. Depicts dramatic events in simple lives of peasants and soldiers.
Matyora is a small village on a beautiful island with the same name. The existence of the village is threatened with flooding by the construction of a dam. This is the story of the ... See full summary »
In a freezing cold World War II winter, two pro-Soviet partisans - Sotnikov and Rybak - head off to find food for themselves and their compatriots. They find a goat at a local farmhouse but their return to camp is interrupted when they are arrested by a Nazi patrol. Taken prisoner, Sotnikov stands true to his beliefs and refuses to answer any questions despite physical abuse and torture. Rybak on the other hand argues that since they know nothing, they should simply tell them all that they know and do whatever they can to stay alive. One of them will live, but at a very heavy cost. Written by
[Imprisoned, Sotnikov and Rybak are arguing whether to speak with Germans or not]
We're soldiers. Soldiers. Don't crawl in shit. You'll never wash it off.
So then, to the grave - to feed the worms. Right?
That's not the worst that could happen. No. That's not what I'm talking about. Now I understand. I understand. The important thing is to be true to yourself.
Fool! You're a fool, Sotnikov. You graduated from the institute for nothing. I want to live! To live! To kill those bastards! Understand?...
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In the Belarus of 1942, two Soviet soldiers are captured by Nazi-friendly Belarusians. In captivity, the attitude of the two men toward their fate differs greatly. One of the soldiers manages to find an inner strength and spirituality, incomprehensible to the other man. Larisa Shepitko's last film is one of the most beautiful war films in cinema history. The cinematography, by Vladimir Chuchnov, is incredible - particularly in the opening sequence, where long, slow, tracking shots depicting the solitude and almost desperate nature of winter landscape in rural Belarus set the mood perfectly. It is easy to draw comparison to Tarkovsky's films, even more so since Tarkovsky's alter ego Anatoli Solonitsyn has a small but important part in The Ascent. The acting is overall brilliant, especially by Boris Plotnikov, in the part of Sotnikov. The film reveals an old-fashioned belief in the strength of religious passion, which feels related to characters such as Dostoyevsky's Prince Myshkin, or Tarkovsky's Stalker. However, this is not a weakness of the film, but rather one of its greatest strengths. The religious content seems so honest, and human, that it is impossible not to be moved. The emotional richness of the film cannot be overstated; the answer is not as simplified as a short summary of the plot would make you think. The slow development of the characters, and the emphasis on their complicated relationships to each other, are somewhat reminiscent of The Commissar, another great Soviet film. The Ascent deserves a second watching, as well as a third, and a tenth. It continues to provide interesting ideas, beautiful images, and emotional complexity.
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