Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Ascent (Larisa Shepitko, 1977)

Very much an art movie, but nevertheless also exciting, funny, and lively. Primordial and unevolved elements of the cinematic buddy comedy show up here and work in amusing juxtaposition with the bleak precision of the film's Christ allegory.

The character of Sotnikov is brilliantly conceived. He takes on the Christ role not because he is, as was the Son of God, the pro-actively saintly or most undeniably purposed of mortal man, but because he is the most passively meek and mildest of hypochondriac man - one who responds with willing credulity to his compatriot politics instead of transcending them; one who enjoys the balm of resignation, who relaxes himself by diminishing his consciousness to a pin-prick of perception and thus reminding himself how ephemeral and involuntary his existence is; one who becomes a martyr because it seems the best way to fit in the war-torn world he inhabits. And the film entreats the question, if the real J.C. did all the courageous stuff he did, just hoping to impress someone?

The Ascent - 9/10

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