Sunday, February 2, 2014

613. Voskhozhdeniye/The Ascent (1976)

Running Time: 111 minutes
Directed By: Larisa Shepitko
Written By: Yuri Klepikov, Larisa Shepitko, from the novel Sotnikov by Vasili Bykov
Main Cast: Boris Plotnikov, Vladimir Gostyukhin, Sergei Yakovlev, Lyudmila Polyakova

Note: I couldn't come here tonight to write a movie review, on my movie blog, without mentioning the passing of one of my favorite film stars, Philip Seymour Hoffman. I just couldn't believe it when I opened up Twitter app, on my last fifteen minute break, at work today and read that he had died from an apparent drug overdose. It always makes me mad when people come out of the wood work, when someone passes away and says what a fan they always were, even though they weren't. I'm here to tell you that I was a tried and true fan of PSH, going back many years, when at one point in my life I tried to collect all of his movies. In a way, PSH is ONE OF the many film personalities that bridged me between common movie goer and wannabe film buff. Whether he was playing a gasoline huffing widower in "Love Liza" (one of my favorites of his and one that will be a little harder to watch, considering the subject content) or playing Truman Capote in "Capote", he was always a class act and knew how to bring quality acting when the red light on the camera went on. I will miss seeing new Philip Seymour Hoffman performances, but will always look back fondly when reliving his old roles. Rest well Mr. Hoffman.



As I sit here writing this review, the Superbowl is being played on the television set behind me and my wife is clutching her head in her hands at the sight of watching her precious Peyton Manning get creamed via the Seattle Seahawks. I have little to no interest in football, but am enjoying picking on her and making light of her teams' hardships. That's what you get for making a film buff watch the Superbowl! On the other hand, they showed a trailer for "Noah", which admittedly I'm excited to see. Anyway..."The Ascent".

There's honestly not a lot of substance to the plot. The film was made in 1977 and tells of two Soviet partisans who leave their fellow villagers in search of food, while also trying to avoid Nazi capture. The men venture out and it doesn't take them long to lift a farm animal from a family. They try to get back to their villagers, but are spotted and fired upon by a Nazi battalion. One of the men, Rybak (Gostyukhin), gets away, but the other, Sotnikov (Plotnikov), is shot in the leg. They take refuge in the home of a woman (who also has three young children), but are eventually caught and taken into custody where they're questioned. If I told you anymore, I'd probably be giving away too much information, but really that's the long & short of it. It's possible that I'm leaving out a few details, but I'll be honest, this movie did absolutely nothing for me, so the idea that I mentally checked out here and there isn't too far fetched.

If I never see another war film again, it will be too soon. I admire Shepitko and her efforts here, because the film DID look like a million bucks and like something that should be included in a list of "must see" films. However, I've just had it up to here (he says as he holds his hand just below his chin) with watching movies that chronicle pieces of history that I'm completely oblivious to. Okay, okay, I'll even go so far as to take the blame on this one and say that it was my fault this film didn't get over with this reviewer. However, I was never going to dig this, whether I was in the mood for it today or not. And that's really all there is to it. I have no real criticisms to add, because I'm going to take the blame, meaning I won't fault the film for anything. As far as I'm concerned it was a perfectly fine, maybe even must see movie that was just lost on this ignorant viewer and I'm fine with admitting that. I will say that the scene at the end, with Rybak trying desperately to hang himself is pretty rough to watch. Very well executed scene and how they managed to emotionally impact me at all, after two hours of not being invested in these characters, is astounding.

RATING: 3/10  At this point, I've pretty much got my ideas for the TOP 20 in my head, so anything really good that comes along is just gravy and I can swap out accordingly. No swaps needed here.


February 2, 2014  8:05pm


  1. Yes, a major shock to hear the PSH news yesterday morning.. He will be badly missed.

    Not really sure what to say about this one.. It has rather merged with 'come see' in my mind. Both desperately worthy films, immensely powerful films that should be seen.. but more than a bit draining.
    Well, I guess they should be - we need to know what horrors went on out there. Britain lost about 500,000 in WWII and suffered heavy bombing.. but no invasion, occupation.. The Soviet Union lost 20,000,000 and had huge swathes of horror and devastation inflicted on it. We need to remember that...

    1. Yeah, I guess we do need to remember that and this one also reminded me of "Come and See" a little bit. Very real, very horrific. Unfortunately, both films were lost on me.


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