The Ascent

1977 [RUSSIAN]

Action / Drama / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 100% · 28 reviews
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 92% · 500 ratings
IMDb Rating 8.2/10 10 10262 10.3K

Top cast

720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
1006.71 MB
Russian 2.0
Subtitles us  
23.976 fps
1 hr 49 min
Seeds 1
1.83 GB
Russian 2.0
Subtitles us  
23.976 fps
1 hr 49 min
Seeds 13

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by neigenoirejz 8 / 10

Bleak, emotionally crushing, beautiful

Is one's life the most valuable thing one can possess? Are all ideals and philosophies mere fallacy, not worth sacrificing one's life for? These are the questions this film touches upon. And does so brilliantly.

By today's standards, the film might be viewed as somewhat slow-paced and indeed, without giving too much away, certain scenes are a bit stretched out and in my opinion, could have been made shorter for stronger emotional impact. Nonetheless, the amazing performance by all the main actors kept me glued to the screen most of the time. The hopelessness and the terror of war, intensified by the unforgiving Russian winter, permeates the film from start to finish.

The film presents us with food for thought not covered much by modern cinema, touching upon something that isn't often discussed openly in modern society. We avoid it because it lurks inside each of us and we fear it - venality and betrayal in face of death.

Our life is everything we know - the entire world ends with it, as Portnov, the Nazi interrogator says in the film. Would YOU sacrifice it for something? For anything? This film will force you to ponder this question and reflect on your values and yourself as a human being.

Reviewed by museumofdave 9 / 10

The Brutality of Battle and The Search For The Human Soul

This intense dramatic examination of the effect of battle on two soldiers thrown together by the circumstances of World War II is brutal and often difficult to watch; it is a black and white film, and since most of the action occurs in the snow, it sometimes approaches the look of an abstract painting.

In what is now Belarusa, the two men from different backgrounds are ordered to leave the camp to find food; on the way they encounter Nazi soldiers and are captured along with members of local peasantry; interrogation and torture follow. The film is less about action and more about the struggle to find meaning in battle, a struggle for the soul's integrity. This is a new release from the Criterion Eclipse series and is exquisitely remastered; be warned it is not an action film, and more a potent examination of human behavior under the worst sorts of stress; it can be a powerful viewing experience for some, and like Elem Klimov's Come And See, a revelation in many ways.

Reviewed by MartinHafer 8 / 10

Not overly pleasant but well done.

This is an interesting film that might come as a bit of a surprise to Western audiences not familiar with the Russian Front during WWII (referred to by the Russians as 'The Great Patriotic War'). As a retired history teacher, I had no trouble following the film--some folks might need a bit of background information.

When the Germans invaded the USSR in 1941, many Soviet citizens joined the Nazis. Their life under Stalinism was terrible--in particular for the Ukrainian farmers. Little did they know that the Germans would be more brutal and savage than the Soviet government. Surprisingly, some of these anti-communist volunteers became every bit as brutal (or more so) as their new German allies. Regardless, people within the USSR began fighting against each other--and loyalty to the nation or to self is a major focus of the latter portion of this movie.

"The Ascent" starts in the woods during winter. A group of partisans (freedom fighters not part of the regular Russian army--in other words, volunteers who took to the woods to fight the German invaders) is hungry. So, two volunteers go in search of food--and try to avoid the Germans. Soon it becomes clear that one of them isn't as strong as the other. This school teacher seems quite game but not as hardy as the other guy. Eventually, they are both captured and it's not the Germans who torture and interrogate them but some of their own countrymen. How will each of these men respond and who is actually the strongest? Overall, this is not exactly a pleasant film. It's actually pretty depressing. But you can't make a fun or nice film about WWII--particularly set in the USSR! So, provided you are willing to see a rather downbeat film, you'll be rewarded by an interesting tale about inner strength and loyalty. In addition, the cinematography is very nice--especially since the film was made in harsh winter conditions. Worth seeing.

By the way, the film's director (Shepitko) was born in the Ukraine--and this must have made this a very personal and moving statement.

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