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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 8:01 pm 
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Location: Portland, OR
knives wrote:
That's why I used Platoon. It may have no visual subtlety, but compared to The Ascent it's Ivan the Terrible. Stone doesn't have somebody telling Dafoe that he's Jesus.

Fair enough. The writing is the shortcoming of this film, no doubt. But the filmmaking is very strong, particularly in the first half, and for me the presentation makes it strong enough to succeed in spite of the somewhat clumsy source material. Ivan is an interesting point of comparison, since the films are a very direct allegory -- one that no viewer could fail to understand -- but likewise the films, which I think are Eisenstein's best, easily surpass any objections one may have about the simplicity of the material. Admittedly, you can probably parse Eisenstein's Ivan/Stalin metaphor a bit more easily or with more rewarding results; but, then again, I wonder if we can be blamed for not looking a little more closely at the nuances in Shepitko's film.

In any case, being a Christ allegory of any sort doesn't rankle with me enough to discount an entire work, or else I'd have to sneer at half the Western canon. And lack of subtlety in religious or political art doesn't bother me so much either, or else I probably wouldn't watch much Soviet cinema.


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 8:40 pm 
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I completely forget the Stalin metaphor when I said Ivan. #-o Should probably look for better examples, maybe The Wrestler?
I do agree with you that before they're caught the movie is excellent, but that part of the story has been done better elsewhere. Absorption sadly turns what could be a flawed, yet great film into something useless outside of the historical perspective. There's no reason to put ones self through the last forty minutes for the first hour, or maybe just turn the movie off before then?

I think the differences between the westerns and this movie is the verbalization of things. John Wayne may have been christ reborn as a fat American, but no one ever said that. As for lacking all subtlety, oddly for the example I plan on using, I think it is more passable if left to visuals. Passion of Joan of Arc is a great example of this. She gets called christ through images, to the point of being crucified, but no one says it. Alas we are, as you mentioned, talking about cold war Russian cinema, even if it was during the thaw.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:05 pm 

Joined: Tue Jun 09, 2009 4:50 pm
I saw Wings yesterday. Wow. I absolutely loved it. And it made me cry.

There are three particular scenes in this film that elicited an emotional reaction that I have not felt from a film in a long time (I'll refrain from shedding more detail on the scene to avoid any spoilers). But, damn.

I loved how the "mise-en-scene" was never intrusive, even in tightly shot quarters, allowing for the emotional depth of the characters to come through. I loved that I cared for the headmistress, wanting her to find a connection with those around her. I loved that the film elicited emotions without resorting to hamfisted cues, the film's cues handled beautifully and subtly by Shepitko, like a grand painter's brushstrokes or the violins of a great, final symphony.

I loved this film. Absolutely. And I will revisit it again and again.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:15 pm 
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Agreed. The ending is phenomenal. I showed it to students this last spring for a Russian Culture Through Film course and it received a good student response too. I like how the film becomes increasingly surrealistic visually throughout.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 22, 2011 12:27 pm 

Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 10:13 pm
I watched The Ascent last night on Hulu, and all I can say is I am overwhelmed. Something about this film just clicked with me, and it was refreshing to have my expectations exceeded. The only reason I watched it is because they mentioned Larisa Shepitko on the supplements on the Solaris blu.

The Soviet/German animosity from WWII is well documented, and I was wondering if there might be a film along that tangent that tells a similiar story from the German perspective?

Thanks, James.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:15 pm 
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Here's an op-ed and short documentary on the "Night Witches," a Soviet all-female night-bombing regiment.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2016 6:41 am 
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DISCUSSION ENDS MONDAY, AUGUST 15th

Members have a two week period in which to discuss the film before it's moved to its dedicated thread in The Criterion Collection subforum. Please read the Rules and Procedures.

This thread is not spoiler free. This is a discussion thread; you should expect plot points of the individual films under discussion to be discussed openly. See: spoiler rules.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

I encourage members to submit questions, either those designed to elicit discussion and point out interesting things to keep an eye on, or just something you want answered. This will be extremely helpful in getting discussion started. Starting is always the hardest part, all the more so if it's unguided. Questions can be submitted to me via PM.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 03, 2016 4:21 pm 
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Finally got to the two films in the Eclipse set thanks to this winning this round and I think both films have similar problems in terms of narrative focus (or lack thereof). The Ascent is a slightly better film than Wings, but the lack of proper weight given to what turn out to be crucial concerns and criticisms in the film by the end of each makes for a confused overall statement. The Ascent also suffers from overfamiliarity— anything that works in this movie, I’ve already seen better or more interestingly elsewhere. I haven’t seen any other Shepitko films outside of these, and I’m not eager to explore further, but I am fairly incredulous at the liner notes’ suggestion that no one could claim to hold her specific voice after her death, as though there was a dearth of ambling, under-realized films out there. It’s doubly frustrating as both films do touch on elements that could make for a successful film, just not here.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 09, 2016 5:58 pm 
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I watched this a few months ago and was completely floored by the film, I think it's a top two film out of the entire eclipse line. I was thoroughly impressed by the cinematography, incredible performances and tragic storyline. The long shot with the literal titular "Ascent" was impressive, but what surprised me the most was the Cristoph Waltz character who runs the interrogations. The impressive sweep of the film, packing in foraging, skirmishes, capture, trial, and ultimately collaboration/defection into a single film manages makes the film feel far more epic than it's relatively short runtime would suggest. I also found it fascinating how the religious symbolism was layered into the film throughout, and personally found Shepitko's approach very effective in this regard.


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 10, 2016 3:02 am 

Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am
I was not loving it by the half point, but the second half is just perfect. Sure the Christ allegory isn't subtle but is sure wrecks you. In fact I would like to rewatch it again along with Wings. Russian war films are just perhaps the best, with this, Come and See, Ivan's Childhood and The Cranes Are Flying all masterpieces


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