The Ascent

Director: Larisa Shepitko
Year Released: 1977
Rating: 2.0

Two soldiers leave the rest of their impoverished comrades to find food - and try to evade the Nazis - in WWII-era Soviet Union, but those Nazis are a persistent lot and they capture both of them. It isn't all that clear from the beginning, but as it turns out one of the soldiers is literally and figuratively a Russian Jesus: he starts the movie huffing it through the harsh terrain with a bad cough, then develops a fever, then he gets shot, then he gets tortured (and branded), then he's hung after refusing to defy his church … I mean homeland during interrogation, while his cohort sells out his fellow soldiers to save himself. The last half-hour is drawn out and overbearing - the Russian Jesus' face glows, the Russian Judas weeps and screams; you wait for the cock to crow three times but it probably froze to death. The brutal landscape makes a more lasting impression than any of the characters.