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The Ascent (15*) + Introduction by writer Vlad Strukov

Her Lens, His Story

Two Russian soldiers walk through snowy woods in The Ascent

Larisa Shepitko’s final film is a masterly war movie following two very different soldiers during the Great Patriotic War. 

Larisa Shepitko’s film, an extraordinary depiction of the horrors of war, set in German-occupied Belorussia, begins as a fight for survival. Two soldiers (Boris Plotnikov and Vladimir Gostyukhin, both excellent) search for food, while dodging enemy fire in the snowy forests. In the second half, Shepitko explores masculinity in times of crisis, as one soldier becomes increasingly martyr-like when faced with death, while the other scrambles for his life.

The roles of men in wartime are examined in critiqued subtly throughout, with Shepitko refusing to judge either man as their behaviour towards the end becomes more extreme. She also elicits a chilling performance from Tarkovsky regular Anatoly Solonitsyn as a terrifying collaborationist interrogator. 

1977 Soviet Union Dir Larisa Shepitko 111 min Digital presentation

Winner of Golden Bear Award at the Berlin Film Festival 1977

Barbican Cinema 3