142 Min. | Drama – War | October 1985
IMDB Rating: 8.3
Director: Elem Klimov
Starring: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevicius
Come and See Review
Come and See, one of the greatest of all war films, Klimov’s stunning work stands amongst such works in which the horror and sorrow of conflict are made fresh over again for the viewer, left to stumble numb from the cinema thereafter. Produced for the 40th anniversary of Russia’s triumph over the German invaders in WW2, based upon a novella by a writer who was a teenage partisan during the war, the propagandist use to which it was later put – when the GDR was still in the Eastern Bloc, citizens were forced to watch this to warn them of another rise of fascism – does not impair its effect today at all. It echoes intensity found in another masterpiece by the director. Klimov’s shorter Larissa (1980) is a remorseful elegy to his late wife.
Come and See’s title is from the Book of Revelations, referring to the summoning of witnesses to the devastation brought by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. ‘Come and See’ is an invitation for its youthful protagonist to arm up and investigate the war, but also one for the audience to tread a similarly terrible path, witnessing with vivid immediacy the Belorussion holocaust at close hand. Here, the intensity of what is on offer justifies amplification by the use of a travelling camera, point-of-view shots, and some startlingly surreal effects pointing up unnatural events, the small animal clinging nervously to the German commander’s arm for instance, soundtrack distortions, or the mock Hitler sculpted out of clay and skull.
Come And See was not an easy shoot. It lasted over nine months and during the course of the action the young cast were called upon to perform some unpleasant tasks including, at one point, wading up to their necks through a freezing swamp. Hallucinatory, heartrending, traumatic and uncompromising, such a movie will not to be all tastes. It certainly does not make for relaxing viewing, although those who see it often say it remains with them for years after. Come and See was Klimov’s last film for, as he said afterwards “I lost interest in making films. Everything that was possible I felt had already been done,” no doubt referring to the emotional intensity of his masterpiece, which would be hard to top. If you feel, that any real war film should succeed in conveying the power and pity of it all, then Come And See is an absolute go and watch.
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