The Ascent, September 24
What is the Soviet athlete's secret to success? Klimov's early satire uses documentary, old newsreels, and fiction to ponder this national obsession, from the torture of training to the politics of winning.
A boy partisan witnesses the everyday horrors of the Nazi occupation of Byelorussia in this testament to the surreal madness of war, and the facts of the Russian experience. "Dazzling filmmaking; towering, cathartic."-London Film Festival
When an island in Central Siberia is to be submerged by the building of a dam and the villagers moved to the mainland, the elderly women on the island vow to stay behind. "An assured, elegiac evocation of a virtually pagan world, both defined and doomed by its traditions."-Time Out. With short Larissa, a tribute to Shepitko by her husband Klimov.
Klimov's rendition of the Rasputin story may be over-the-top, in keeping with the infamous charlatan himself, but a restored print of this much-tampered-with film offers new revelations about what a thinking Russian makes of an extraordinarily bizarre episode in the nation's history.
Shepitko's prizewinning first film about futile attempts at modernization on the arid Kirghiz steppes. "The images have an extraordinary intensity."-Film Center, Chicago
"A lovely and nuanced character study of a once-famous World War II fighter pilot who becomes a provincial schoolmistress. . . . Stately and reflective in tempo."-Chicago Reader
A scientist in midlife crisis flees to Siberia in this daring drama, "in every way as fascinating as Tarkovsky's Solaris, and signifying a major talent in the Soviet Union."-International Film Guide
Klimov's hilarious first film, set in a Young Pioneers camp, is "a witty, biting satire on the Soviet way of living. . . . Nothing was forbidden, but of course nothing was possible either."-Marina Goldovskaya
Klimov's second comedy riled the authorities with its depiction of a shy dentist who gains fame for inventing a painless way of pulling teeth and suffers the consequences of being young, gifted, and Soviet.
The partisan struggle against the Nazis in WWII provides the setting for a timeless work of art in Shepitko's The Ascent. "In the entire history of cinema, a handful of films have captured the transcendent, revelatory moment of spiritual triumph in the face of an impossibly painful reality . . . a profoundly moving experience."-Filmex '78. Shown with Homeland of Electricity, Shepitko's visually stunning short film on the aftermath of the October Revolution.