The Ascent

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The Ascent
File:Ascent poster.jpg
German poster - (left to right) Rybak, the village headman, Sotnikov, Basya, Demchikha
Directed by Larisa Shepitko
Written by Vasil Bykaŭ (novel Sotnikov)
Yuri Klepikov
Larisa Shepitko
Starring Boris Plotnikov
Vladimir Gostyukhin
Sergei Yakovlev
Lyudmila Polyakova
Anatoli Solonitsyn
Music by Alfred Schnittke
Cinematography Vladimir Chukhnov
Pavel Lebeshev
Release dates
  • 2 April 1977 (1977-04-02)
Running time
111 minutes
Country Soviet Union
Language Russian

The Ascent (Russian: Восхождение, tr. Voskhozhdeniye) is a 1977 black-and-white Soviet drama film directed by Larisa Shepitko and made at Mosfilm. The movie was shot in January 1974 near Murom, Vladimir Oblast, Russia, in appalling winter conditions, as required by the script, based on the novel Sotnikov by Vasil Bykaŭ.[1] It was Shepitko's last film before her death in a car accident in 1979. The film won the Golden Bear award at the 27th Berlin International Film Festival in 1977.[2] It was also selected as the Soviet entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 50th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.[3]


During the Great Patriotic War (World War II), two Soviet partisans go to a Belarusian village in search of food. After taking a farm animal from the collaborationist headman (Sergei Yakovlev), they head back to their unit, but are spotted by a German patrol. After a protracted gunfight in the snow in which one of the Germans is killed, the two men get away, but Sotnikov (Boris Plotnikov) is shot in the leg. Rybak (Vladimir Gostyukhin) has to take him to the nearest shelter, the home of Demchikha (Lyudmila Polyakova), the mother of three young children. However, they are discovered and captured.

The two men and a sobbing Demchikha are taken to the German headquarters. Sotnikov is interrogated first by detective Portnov (Anatoli Solonitsyn), a former Soviet club-house director and children's choirmaster who became the local head of the Belarusian Auxiliary Police, loyal to the Germans. When Sotnikov refuses to answer Portnov's questions, he is brutally tortured by members of the collaborationist police, but gives up no information. However, Rybak is a different story. He tells as much as he thinks the police already know, hoping to live so he can escape later. The headman, now suspected of supporting the partisans, and Basya Meyer, the teen daughter of a Jewish shoemaker, are imprisoned in the same cellar for the night.

The next morning, all are led out to be hanged. Rybak persuades Portnov and the Germans to let him join the police. Sotnikov and the others are executed.

As he heads back to the camp with his new comrades, Rybak is vilified by the villagers. Finally realizing what he has done, he tries to hang himself with his belt in the outhouse, but the belt becomes unfastened. He ties it more securely, but cannot poke his head through the smaller hole. A fellow policeman calls for him continuously until Rybak opens the door. The policeman tells Rybak their commander wants him, then leaves Rybak alone in the courtyard. Rybak spies the camp's open door, and the village and empty fields beyond, but breaks down in tears and laughter as he realizes he dares not try to escape.


See also


  1. "И жизнь, и слезы, и любовь". Bulvar magazine. 3 January 2013. Retrieved 22 May 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "Berlinale 1977 - Filmdatenblatt". Archiv der Internationale Filmfestspiele in Berlin. 1977. Retrieved 2010-02-27.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

External links