Larisa Shepitko – Krylya (Крылья) AKA Wings (1966)

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Plot Synopsis by Clarke Fountain

The director of this film, Larisa Shepitko, was the wife of the distinguished director Elem Klimov and a very promising director herself. Based on a true story, Krylya tells of the efforts of a famous female fighter pilot from the World War II era to make a life for herself in the postwar era. At 42, the present pales before her memories of the past, and of her true love, now long dead. She is unable to come to terms with her past nor with the present, in which she is the director of a high school and the mother of an adoptive daughter. Her attempts to compensate for her distraction all lie in the direction of appearing authoritative, but the students and her daughter, with the unerring instincts of the young, distrust and despise her. In her distress, she is forced even more deeply into reliving her memories of the only time in which she was truly alive, seeking some kind of answer or resolution. Continue reading

Larisa Shepitko – Voskhozhdeniye AKA The Ascent (1977)

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A Soviet masterpiece

In the Belarus of 1942, two Soviet soldiers are captured by Nazi-friendly Belarusians. In captivity, the attitude of the two men toward their fate differs greatly. One of the soldiers manages to find an inner strength and spirituality, incomprehensible to the other man. Larisa Shepitko’s last film is one of the most beautiful war films in cinema history. Continue reading

Larisa Shepitko – Ty i ya AKA You and Me (1971)

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Peter, a former medical scientist, suddenly quits his cushy job as a doctor at the Russian Embassy in Sweden and returns to Moscow. 3 years ago his team stood on the threshold of a vital break-through in neurosurgery, but the experimental work was cut short when Peter left for Stockholm. Peter tries to pick up the threads of his old life, fails and runs still further away, to a small town in Northern Russia where he takes a job as a district doctor. But the past would not relinquish its hold on him even there. Continue reading

Larisa Shepitko – Rodina Electrichestva aka The Homeland of Electricity (1967)

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Shepitko graduated from VGIK, where she had studied in the workshop of Alexander Dovzhenko (whom she always referred to as her mentor) and Mikhail Romm in 1963. Her diploma work was Znoi / Heat (1963), made for Kirgizfilm from “The Camel’s Eye”, a story by the Kirgiz writer Chingiz Aitmatov, about a clash of generations in which a middle-aged woman, director of a civil engineering school, yearns for her days as a pilot during World War II and struggles to understand her daughter’s generation. Shepitko’s next project was the short film Rodina elektrichestva / Homeland of Electricity (1967), from the story by Andrei Platonov about the coming of electricity to a Russian village after the Revolution. Frequently compared to the work of her master Dovzhenko, this film, like Andrei Smirnov’s Angel, was shot as part of a portmanteau film, Nachalo nevedomogo veka / The Beginning of an Unknown Century, made to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Revolution. But the films were banned for twenty years, and Rodina elektrichestva surfaced only in 1987, long after Shepitko’s death. Continue reading