The Ascent

Even if Larissa Shepitko had only made The Ascent, her name would be accorded a place of honor in annals of contemporary cinema. A work of extraordinary emotional power and spiritual resonance, the film is set in snow-covered Byelorussian landscapes during the darkest days of World War II. Two soldiers are separated from their platoon, captured by the Germans, and sent to a prison camp. Thus begin two parallel yet connected journeys, as each man struggles with the meaning and value of one's own life when set against ideas of patriotism or simply a commitment to others. The Ascent was awarded the Golden Bear at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival, along with the International Critics' Prize and an award from the Catholic Film Office-a rare “triple crown” that promoted Shepitko to the front ranks of international cinema. Tragically, she was killed in a car accident while working on her next film just months later.

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