7.3/10
115
2 user 5 critic

Ascent (2016)

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 ... See full summary »

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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...

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18 May 2017 (Netherlands)  »

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€500,000 (estimated)
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16:9 HD
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User Reviews

 
Life, death and Mount Fuji (slight spoilers)
11 October 2016 | by See all my reviews

Presented at the London Film Festival as an experimental film, this is an art house feature of great beauty and poignant reflections on life and death. Using photographs collected from members of the public, director Fiona Tan shows us Japanese society, reflecting human society, with the omnipresent Mt. Fuji. Against this we hear of two lovers, the woman - narrated by the director - and Hiroshi, who is ascending Mt. Fuji. We learn early on that the woman's conversation is part of her grieving process as Hiroshi is dead. Hiroshi is very much alive in his part of the conversation but, having reached the mountain's summit, his descent is curtailed. Was this when he died? We are left to wonder.

The film is seductive and simple in presentation whilst rich in ideas and thoughts that are undercut by powerful feelings and take in Japan during and post-WW2. The photography is sublime and, according to the director, not digitally enhanced. The film needs to be seen more than once because it is so full. My favourite thought, and a romantic one, is that "when you cannot sleep at night, it's because you are awake in someone else's dream".


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