Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema: The Ascent (1977)

Sunday March 23rd 2014, Movie night, Can Dialectics Break Bricks Cinema by Jeffrey Babcock: The Ascent (Восхождение, Voskhozhdeniye). Directed by Larisa Shepitko, 1977, 109 minutes, in Russian with English subtitles. Door opens at 8pm, film begins at 9pm.

Larisa Shepitko was a Female Ukrainian director who went to school and made films in Russia, but died tragically in a car accident after making just a couple films. She was part of a wave of visionary new film directors at the time which included Andrei Tarkovsky, and she was the wife of the director Elem Klimov (Come ans See). This was her last film, and her crowning achievement.

This film takes place in 1942 in the snow covered landscape of the Belarus, as two young Russian soldiers attempt to find food while evading the German occupation. But this is no thriller in the Hollywood sense, and instead centers on what happens when they are caught… and the immensely different reactions that the two men have to the intense situation. In the end, its about how a person handles their own fate. The cinematography by Vladimir Chuchnov in combination with the storyline makes this one of the most harrowing and poetically crafted films in the history of cinema. The sparse score by composer Alfred Schnittke is shattering and works together with Shepitko’s direction in a bizarre and original way. It was an international sensation when it first came out, but because of the director’s tragic death and therefore her limited output, the film is almost forgotten. It was the winner of the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 77.

One viewer’s reaction: “*Someone remarked that The Ascent is one of those films that you can only bear watching once or twice, so profound is its emotional power. And indeed, it is a bruising, teeth-rattling piece of work. It is certainly not for someone looking for a light bit of entertainment. 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 it. 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.*”

Film night at Joe’s Garage, warm and cozy cinema! Doors open at 8pm, film begins at 9pm, free entrance. You want to play a movie, let us know: joe [at] squat [dot] net