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The Ascent (1977)

Voskhozhdenie (original title)
| Drama, War | 1977 (Norway)
Two Soviet partisans on a mission to gather food contend with the winter cold, the occupying Germans, and their own psyches.

Director:

Larisa Shepitko

Writers:

Vasiliy Bykov (novel), Yuri Klepikov (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Credited cast:
Boris Plotnikov ... Sotnikov
Vladimir Gostyukhin ... Rybak
Sergey Yakovlev ... Village elder
Lyudmila Polyakova ... Demchikha
Viktoriya Goldentul ... Basya
Anatoliy Solonitsyn ... Portnov, the Nazi interrogator
Mariya Vinogradova ... Village elder's wife
Nikolai Sektimenko ... Stas'
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Sergei Kanishchev ... Boy wearing Budenovka (as Serezha Kanishchev)
Edit

Storyline

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 sheep at the home of a German Headman 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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | War

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

Mosfilm [rus]

Country:

Soviet Union

Language:

Russian | German

Release Date:

1977 (Norway) See more »

Also Known As:

The Ascent See more »

Filming Locations:

Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, Russia

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film directed by Larisa Shepitko. See more »

Quotes

Sotnikov: [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.
Rybak: So then, to the grave - to feed the worms. Right?
Sotnikov: 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.
Rybak: 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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User Reviews

 
Shattering
8 September 2009 | by jacksflicksSee all my reviews

I agree with another reviewer, this is such a shattering film, that will be tough to watch again soon, though for quality alone, it deserves repeated viewing. The complexity of the characters, the incredible cinematography and superb direction make this movie worth the emotional price of watching.

There is one scene, of the two partisans dragging themselves through the snow to escape a patrol, that's perhaps, for sheer physicality, the most amazing performance I've ever seen. In fact, though not episodic -- the story flows -- this is a movie of memorable scenes. There's the passing of rations amongst the partisans, the snow scenes, the ruined farm scene, the encounters in the houses, the interrogation, the "basement" scene, the "ascent". All stand out like jewels in a necklace.

For me, the religiosity isn't overt. Frankly, I don't think it would have been permitted in a Soviet film. I do see this as an existential parable about the value of life. Here is a tale where the hero -- and he is a true hero -- becomes the villain, and the weaker one becomes the stronger one. Is this a mystical process or one dictated by circumstances? There is a transfiguration, but does it come from within or without? You must see the movie to understand the issues, for they can't be discussed without giving away too much of the story. I can't say enough about the acting. It's hard for me to choose which of the leads is more affecting. I'm not familiar with Soviet film of the 70s and am not familiar with any of the actors, but they are all superb. I also note how director Larisa Shepitko uses children. They remind me of Giotto's child angels.

There is a little muddling in the end. There is apparently a prior relationship between the soldier Sotnikov and the interrogator Portnov, but this is left dangling. And the final scene is a bit ambiguous. But compared to the total experience these are quibbles. This is a movie that will mark you for life.


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