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Larisa Shepitko

 

Wings (1966) ... aka Krylya


The Ascent (1976) ... aka Voskhozhdeniye

 

The career of Larisa Shepitko, an icon of sixties and seventies Soviet cinema, was tragically cut short when she was killed in a car crash at age forty, just as she was emerging on the international scene. The body of work she left behind, though small, is masterful, and her genius for visually evoking characters' interior worlds is never more striking than in her two greatest works: Wings, an intimate yet exhilarating portrait of a female fighter pilot turned provincial headmistress, and The Ascent, a gripping, tragic wartime parable of betrayal and martyrdom. A true artist who had deftly used the Soviet film industry to make statements both personal and universal, Shepitko remains one of the greatest unsung filmmakers of all time.

 


Titles

 


 

Wings
Larisa Shepitko, 1966
For her first feature after graduating from the All-Russian State Institute for Cinematography (VGIK), Larisa Shepitko trained her lens on the fascinating Russian character actress Maya Bulgakova, who gives a marvelous performance as a once heroic Russian fighter pilot now living in quiet, disappointingly ordinary life as a school principal. Subtly portraying one woman’s desperation with elegant, spare camera work and casual, fluid storytelling, Shepitko, with Wings, announced herself as an important new voice in Soviet cinema.

The Ascent
Larisa Shepitko, 1976
Shepitko’s emotionally overwhelming final film won the Golden Bear at the 1977 Berlin Film Festival and has been hailed around the world as the finest Soviet film of its decade. Set during World War II's darkest days , The Ascent follows the path of two peasant soldiers, cut off from their troop, who trudge through the snowy backwoods of Belarus seeking refuge among villagers. Their harrowing trek leads them on a journey of betrayal, heroism, and ultimate transcendence.

Theatrical Releases: 1966 - 1976

  DVD Reviews

DVD Review: Eclipse Series 11 from the Criterion Collection (2-disc) - Region 1 - NTSC

 

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC
Bitrates: Respective bitrates - 6.15. 7.91 mb/s
Time: Respectively - 1:24:54 and 1:49:04
Bitrate:

Wings

Bitrate:

The Ascent

Audio Russian (mono) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Eclipse / Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
All Original Aspect Ratios - 1.33 

Edition Details:

  •  one page (for each film) of liner notes in the transparent case


DVD Release Date: August 12th, 2008

2 Slim Transparent Keep Cases inside a Slipcase cardboard box (see image above)
Chapters: 15, 14

 

 

Comments:

NOTE: The 2 features of this boxset are housed in individual slim transparent keep cases (see image above) and they are not sold separately at this time. These particular editions can only be obtained in Criterion's Eclipse Series Eleven - Larisa Shepitko package at present.

Wings is transferred on a single-layered DVD where The Ascent is dual-layered.  Both are pictureboxed transferred (see our full description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review) with a black border circumventing the framed image. Both are coded for Region 1 in the NTSC standard and both are progressive. There are optional English subtitles Russian mono dialogue. The Janus and Mosfilm logos precedes each film.

Wings: is a decade older than The Ascent and has a few blemishes including some light vertical scratches (see sample below). The image quality may have improved with a dual-layered transfer - I don't know. Detail is somewhat weak with contrast being a bit better but no quite at Criterion's usual SD standards. Perhaps we should be thankful that we have it available at all.   

 

The Ascent: is cleaner and black levels, and contrast in general, is superior to the older film. This has brought detail up a notch and overall it looks better than I would have anticipated. The quality is fairly consistent with no significant damage or marks. It can look quite impressive at times.   

Bitrates are average for Wings (6.15 mb/s), but at the higher end for The Ascent (7.19 mb/s).

Aside from one page liner notes for each film (visible on the inner case sleeve through the transparent case cover) there are no supplements. This is consistent from Eclipse. 

Both audio tracks are Russian mono and reflected comparably to the image quality with the younger film standing as marginally clearer and cleaner. Both are acceptable for standard viewing and there are optional English subtitles available.

I watched both films as soon as they arrived in the post and I'd prefer to reflect somewhat before passing judgment or making any strong comments. I thought the imagery was unique and highly memorable. In my notes I made references to many other Soviet films that I have seen including The Cranes are Flying, Ballad of a Soldier and even some of the works of Andrei Tarkovsky (especially the beginning of The Ascent).

Personally, I find this is the magnificence of the versatile disc format and what the Eclipse Collection are doing by exposing lost, forgotten or overshadowed classics in simple affordable editions. So many people would never have the opportunity to view these Shepitko films... excepting via this wonderful consumer convenience. To me, it is worth every penny and then some. I know I'll be revisiting these works again and yet again.  Film enthusiasts of a little over a decade ago might have to travel great distances seeking rare retrospectives for what we can now do in the leisure and comfort of our home theaters. 'Wow' - seems an understatement. We encourage Eclipse in their important project and endorse their series.

Gary W. Tooze



DVD Menus



Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

Wings (1966) ... aka Krylya

Directed by Larisa Shepitko

Starring Maya Bulgakova, Sergei Nikonenko, Zhanna Bolotova, Pantelejmon Krymov and Leonid Dyachkov
 
Subtitle Sample
 

 

Note light vertical scratch down the centre of the screen...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Slim Transparent Keep Case Cover

 

 

 

Screen Captures

 

The Ascent (1976) ... aka Voskhozhdeniye


Directed by Larisa Shepitko


Starring Boris Plotnikov, Vladimir Gostyukhin, Sergei Yakovlev, Lyudmila Polyakova

 

Subtitle Sample

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

 

 

 

Distribution Eclipse / Criterion Collection - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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Gary Tooze

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