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The Ascent
Larisa Shepitko
Udssr 1976
110 min

Vasil Bykau was luckier than most writers, for cinema treated this master of Great Patriotic War-fiction mighty well: for almost all films based on his novels and stories turned out splendidly, even if their directors came almost all from the industry’s second echelon; Bykau, it seems, inspired the best in each. Which is also true for geniuses, as this corpus’ lone masterpiece: VOSKHOZHDENIYE, was created by one of the most unpredictable and daring souls of USSR cinema: Larisa Shepitko, who outdid herself here.
In the time-honored tradition of Great Patriotic War-fiction, VOSKHOZHDENIYE depicts the nation’s battles and plights between 1941 and 1945 as a religious experience. Two irregulars: Sotnikov and Rybak, fall into the invader’s hands and are passed on for investigation to a local collaborator: Portnov, an officer of the Belarusian Auxiliary Police, who has them tortured; Sotnikov choses Golgotha while Rybak faces a fate worse than Judas Iscariot’s … And so, one man’s Ascension (a better translation of the Russian title than Ascent) becomes another’s eternal damnation. All that set in a glacial world of wild snow flurries and ice storms, of rotten wood and mud – a world of despair where it truly takes faith to live until sunrise. (Olaf Möller)

  • Boris Plotnikov - Sotnikov
  • Vladimir Gostyukhin - Rybak
  • Sergey Yakovlev - village eldest
  • Lyudmila Polyakova - Demchikha
  • Anatoli Solonitsyn - Portnov
  • Mariya Vinogradova - wife of the village eldest
  • Jurij Klepikov
  • Larisa Shepitko based on the novel „Sotnikov“ by Vasil Bykau
  • Vladimir Čuhnov
  • Pavel Lebeshev
  • Yan Pototsky
  • Valerija Belova
  • Alfred Schnittke
  • Yuriy Raksha
Mosfilm Cinema Concern
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