By the Book
Directed by Larisa Shepitko • 1977 • Soviet Union
Starring Boris Plotnikov, Vladimir Gostyukhin, Sergei Yakovlev
The crowning triumph of a career cut tragically short, the final film from Larisa Shepitko won the Golden Bear at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival and went on to be hailed as one of the finest works of late Soviet cinema. In the darkest days of World War II, two partisans set out for supplies to sustain their beleaguered outfit, braving the blizzard-swept landscape of Nazi-occupied Belorussia. When they fall into the hands of German forces and come face-to-face with death, each must choose between martyrdom and betrayal, in a spiritual ordeal that lifts the film’s earthy drama to the plane of religious allegory. With stark, visceral cinematography that pits blinding white snow against pitch-black despair, THE ASCENT finds poetry and transcendence in the harrowing trials of war.
Up Next in By the Book
Directed by Martin Rosen • 1978 • United Kingdom
Starring John Hurt, Richard Briers, Michael Graham-Cox
With this passion project, screenwriter-producer-director Martin Rosen brilliantly achieved what had been thought nearly impossible: a faithful big-screen adaptation of Richard Adams’s classic...
Empire of Passion
Directed by Nagisa Oshima • 1978 • Japan
Starring Tatsuya Fuji, Kazuko Yoshiyuki, Takahiro Tamura
With an arresting mix of eroticism and horror, Oshima plunges the viewer into a nightmarish tale of guilt and retribution in EMPIRE OF PASSION (AI NO BOREI). Set in a Japanese village at the end of ...
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky • 1979 • Russian Federation
Andrei Tarkovsky’s final Soviet feature is a metaphysical journey through an enigmatic postapocalyptic landscape, and a rarefied cinematic experience like no other. A hired guide—the Stalker—leads a writer and a professor into the heart...