The Ascent

The Ascent ★★★★★

I won't lie that I had very high expectations for this film. I can't exactly explain why, but I am utterly pleased to say The Ascent far exceeded even that, and it also may actually be one of the best movies ever.

The entire film is set in Nazi-controlled Soviet territory, in a dreary and cold winter. The great black and white cinematography (which was a great choice for filming it, I think the film seem very different if filmed in color, and not in a good way) highlights the shear whiteness of the snowy woods and landscape. Through every scene you can practically experience the frigidness of the environment, you can feel the bitter-cold biting at your skin.

A group of resistance fighters are severely low on food and ammo, and they send out Rybak and Sotnikov to get provisions, but they are unable to as the begin to face roadblocks and troubles, and the men begin to transform emotionally before our eyes.

The film is all about the importance of comradeship, a general Soviet-era theme I would say, but The Ascent executes it so perfectly it becomes a true exploration of humanity, war, survival and betrayal. Then the film ties in clear religious references to the betrayal and execution of Jesus by Judas, all in the midst of the story of comradeship between soldiers, and it is absolutely brilliant. With all the bleak intensity of the camera and of the acting by everyone involved, the film perfectly transcribes refined emotion through all the tenseness of the scenes, and this thrilling tenseness also helps the movie to be satisfyingly entertaining as well. And I can't forget Anatoly Solonitsyn's (aka The Writer in Stalker <3) performance as the traitorous interrogator who is full of this devilish intensity that it fantastic, though it is a bit unfair to focus on him as everyone, especially the leading two actors were amazing as well, and I am only mentioning Solonitsyn due to my clear Tarkovsky fanboy tendencies.

The Ascent is everything a war film needs to be and everything a war film should be. It combines thrilling entertainment with rich emotionally impacting acting and situations, beautiful cinematography and imagery that manages to create a stark, dreary feeling devoid of anything hopeful, and it even ties great and interesting themes to boot.