Stopping by to say what a lovely blog u have, and also to ask u during the run up to cannes what ur 10 favourite palm d'or winners r ?
In chronological order:
1. The Third Man, Carol Reed (1949) 2. The Cranes are Flying, Mikail Kalatozov (1957) 3. La Dolce Vita, Federico Fellini (1960) 4. Viridiana, Luis Buñuel (1961) 5. Un homme et une femme, Claude Lelouch (1966) 6. Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola (1979) 7. 霸王別姬 (Farewell, My Concubine), Chen Kaige (1993) 8.
طعم گيلاس… (Taste of Cherry), Abbas Kiarostami (1997) 9.
ลุงบุญมีระลึกชาติ (Uncle Boome Who Can Recall His Past Lives),
Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2010) 10.
Kış Uykusu (Winter Sleep), Nuri Bilge Ceylan (2014)
The Ascent Directed by Larisa Shepitko (1977)- Recently I said that the Soviets were the best at creating consistently striking images and man that just gets proven again here. I hadn’t heard of this film until recently and it seems crazy I didn’t know of Larisa Shepitko. For one this film was amazing so I’m looking forward to seeing her other stuff, and she was also married to Elem Klimov the director of the amazing Come and See. Sounds like an interesting person about whom I’ll need to find out more about. The Ascent tells the story of two Russian partisans trying to get some food for the group they’re trying to help on a journey. Along the way they face traitors and sickness before clashing with some Germans. Through their story of survival these two men and where their true commitments lie are completely exposed. An ideology can seem like everything until ones life is in the way, few put their life before anything. Set in the snow and shot in black and white the film often shows its characters swallowed by the landscape. Oftentimes this near omnipresent whiteness is a saviour by shielding them from harm but it can also leave them exposed. Their beliefs have them in a similar spot, a source of strength at one moment and a source of pain in another. For a period it’s a familiar war survival story but constantly changes what type of story it’s telling. A lot of the separate elements are variations on things I have seen before, for the most part, but this is a really perfect example of how one tells something being what elevates it so much. Every aspect of the story is told in as beautiful a way as possible, and it’s not just the presence of Anatoliy Solonitsyn that makes me think of Tarkovsky. This would make a great double-bill with Ivan’s Childhood, although the lighting in this reminded me more of Tarkovsky’s later films. Lighting looks like natural light yet it is unnaturally perfect. Incredibly cinematic lighting can be used yet is made to look like how the sun just happens to be shining. Russian war films are fast becoming my favourites. Every facet of cinema is used in the most stylish way to tell unique little stories. That’s another thing these films often get right is the scale. The Ascent is predominantly a film about two men but all that happens speaks to a much wider audience. It captures the more universal pains of people lost in fear in war, the distortion of morality in war, and how the cruelty of others poisons the whole, as well as much more. A big world/war-ending device doesn’t need to be the threat when getting lost in ones fear is palpable enough. Another thing it gets right is humanising the villains to an extent. They are still monstrous but you’re always reminded that this monstrosity comes from a human place, which makes it all the scarier. Nazi’s and Russian traitors aren’t stock villains but people just like the protagonists that have been warped by fear and an ideology, but circumstance has pulled them to worse places. Looking forward to seeing more of Shepitko’s work, her and Kalatozov have reignited my interest in this period of Russian film.