Ascent
Release Date
6 August 2016

Ascent (2016)

1h 20min ยท Drama
Through a gray blanket of cloud the contours of a mountain can be barely discerned. This is Mount Fuji, a volcano with many faces and of immeasurable cultural and symbolic significance. We are lead through the film by the voices of two fictitious characters - Mary, an English woman and her deceased Japanese partner, Hiroshi. Mary receives a parcel containing letters and a collection of photographs from Hiroshi. His letters, in which he describes climbing Mount Fuji, trigger in her mind a train of thoughts and reflections. The photographs we discover together with Mary. 4,500 exceptional and diverse photographs from the past 150 years form the basis for this film. Many images are of undeniably breathtaking beauty - ranging from early examples of nineteenth century Japanese studio photography to military propaganda photos from the thirties, from victorious American press images to amateur snapshots across several decades. This work has for me to do with visibility and invisibility, with distance and proximity. These thousands of images enshroud the mountain like a cloud, revealing and hiding it at the same time. This art film project is in essence a film made entirely with stills; a cinematic experiment balancing delicately between documentary and fiction. As the narrative unfolds unexpected and surprising paths are explored. Together with the two protagonists the viewer climbs Mount Fuji across geographical, temporal and cultural divides. The woodblock prints of Hokusai are considered, but also paintings by Van Gogh, philosophical views stemming from Asian philosophy, mankind's connection to landscape, Mount Fuji's religious significance, recent Japanese history. But central throughout is the filmmaker's own questioning about the nature of photography and how it is possible to create cinema using only found images and without movement.
8.1/10
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