The Image and Sound of War in the Films “The Ascent” and “Come and See”

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Two films by the well-known cinematic couple Larisa Shepitko and Elem Klimov are analyzed. Both “The Ascent” and “Come and See” are screen versions of literary works. Though the war-time stories are different they have certain similarities at the plot level: the settings are the occupied territory of Belarus, the time is 1942–1943, the main characters are partisans. Nevertheless each of them displays specific visual aesthetics and a tremendous amount of work with sound. After all, the audio design of the film is one of the most important and interesting objects of study, since joint efforts of sound engineers and composers create a genuine and unique world of the movie. No sound is random, because it is part of a certain system which determines the structure of the film, for example, attention to the environment often creates a sense of the reality of screen space.

Only by analyzing the audio component can one fully understand the director’s idea, the dramatic structure and semantic accents in the films, the way a musical or noise score can add a new layer of meanings to the imagery. The soundtracks of the films about the Great Patriotic War “The Ascent” (1976) by L.Shepitko and “Come and See” (1985) by E.Klimov reflect two approaches to the sound design of war movies: music as a reflection of a visual image which is then revealed in a new way, and music as a word-for-word translation, an illustration that ascribes a certain state to the image. Thus, composers Alfred Schnitke and Oleg Yanchenko, following dissimilar paths, create unique sound canvases which use different techniques of musical expressiveness and reflect the era in which the movies were shot.

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Prozorovskaya Irina

Student (4th year) of Film Studies (Class of Kirill Razlogov, Dr. Sc. of Arts, Professor), All-Russian State Institute of Cinematography named after S.A.Gerasimov

S.A.Gerasimov Russian State Institute of Cinematography (VGIK)
, 3, Wilhelm Pik street, 129226 Moscow, Russia

Author for correspondence.


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