a war film about human nature (on Blu-ray and DVD)

a war film about human nature (on Blu-ray and DVD)

Artistic note: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed Stargray star(4/5)


In the winter of 1942, the German army continued its advance on the Russian front. A Soviet battalion is forced to withdraw, and its soldiers disperse into disarray. Two of them begin a long journey in the woods …

• Original title: Voskhozhdenie
• Media tested: Blu-ray
Genre: war, drama
• Year: 1977
Instruction: Larissa Chepitko
• Cast: Boris Plotnikov, Vladimir Gostyukhin, Sergey Yakovlev, Lioudmila Polyakova, Viktoria Goldentoul, Anatoly Solonitsyn, Mariya Vinogradova, Nikolai Sektimenko
• Duration: 1 h 49 min 03
• Video format: 16: 9
Cinema format: 1.37 / 1 black and white
• Subtitle: French
• Soundtrack: DTS-HD MA 2.0 monophonic Russian
• Bonuses: Partisan Sanganalysis of the film by Elias Hérody, review Replicatestudents at the École Normale Supérieure (2022, 18 min. 18) – Larisa (1980, 20 min. 46) – A talk with Larissa (1999, 52 min. 10)
Publisher: Potemkin

Art commentary

Ascension is the last film directed by Larissa Chepitko (see bonus), who was first an actress before she became a very promising filmmaker, unfortunately died far too early in 1979. Enhanced by the cinematic teaching of Alexandre Dovjenko and his lessons on respect and defense of personal feelings, she puts this artistic perception into practice in all her work, if apotheosis will be Ascension, rightly awarded to Berlin’s Golden Bear in 1977. Adapted from a novel “Solnikov” (Сотников, 1970) by Vassil Bykaw, the film tells the story of World War II about two Soviet partisans captured in Belarus by the Germans and sentenced to death. Filmed under extreme conditions in natural surroundings, Ascension is both a very physically demanding film and a drama with a psychological dimension that is not afraid to transcend the naturalism of its narrative into a powerful metaphorical and Christlike tableau (symbolic ascent to Calvary). Larissa Chepitko defined her film as a “spiritual journey towards humanity”, whose protagonists Sotnikov (Boris Plotnikov) and Rybak (Vladimir Gostioukhine) very clearly symbolized the two sides of human nature in the light of redemption: acceptance or rebellion. The filmmaker assumes this existential dichotomy of good and evil, correctly dostoevsky. The intensity of his film is well supported by the harsh aesthetics of a hyper-realistic staging and by the total involvement of his actors: several memorable sequences, including a scene in which the two patriots are literally intertwined in the snow, prove the full power of the interpretation . In the second part, another great actor, Anatoly Solonitsyn, an actor of remarkable composition (Andrei Rublev, 1969), plays Portnov, the ruthless Russian in the service of the Nazis. The staging of Larissa Cheptiko translates with emphasis and all-Soviet lyrics the two patriots’ “stations of the cross”: her very detailed shots, play on the frame, the music, the editing bordering on the baroque, triggers a tangible emotion that is difficult to endure: a visual bias that has sometimes been criticized for its weight. But that’s the whole filmmaker’s art Ascension to have known how to deal in her own way with this dangerous subject, which could very easily turn into nationalist propaganda: on the contrary, she does not hesitate to minimize the supposed heroism of the combatants and speak openly about cooperation and passivity (rise to the gallows) for not to talk about cowardice and betrayal! It is understandable that the Soviet authorities frowned and tried for a period not to broadcast this film, which went against the imposed tacit conventions, but which ended up attracting audiences and was qualified as a masterpiece. To see or see again without hesitation.

Blu-ray The Ascension

Technical comment

Picture : HD copy, restored film, image and sound, in 4K by Mosfilm from the original 35 mm negative, excellent definition occasionally set back and very nice sharpness on close-ups, discreet and homogeneous film texture (shooting in 35 mm, Master Format 4K 2018) , balanced control of contrasts, many bright planes in the snow, intense black, nuanced white, very well layered shades of gray, no noticeable flaws

His : Russian 2.0 monophonic mix, clear and balanced dialogues, no distortion or special errors, very nice dynamics on the atmospheres and the few skillfully restored effects, nice improvement of Alfred Schnittke’s music

Our opinion

Picture: Red StarRed StarRed StarRed Starhalf red star(4.5 / 5)
Sound mix: blue starblue starblue starblue stargray star(4/5)
Bonuses: Red StarRed StarRed Starhalf red stargray star(3.5 / 5)
Packaging: blue starblue starblue stargray stargray star(3/5)

IMDb : https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075404/

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