Come and See

Plot

During WWII, a Belorussian boy is thrust into the atrocities of war, fighting with a hopelessly unequipped Soviet resistance movement against ruthless German forces…

Release Year: 1985

Rating: 8.2/10 (12,407 voted)

Director:
Elem Klimov

Stars: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Lauciavicius

Storyline
During WWII, a Belorussian boy is thrust into the atrocities of war, fighting with a hopelessly unequipped Soviet resistance movement against ruthless German forces. Witnessing scenes of abject terror and surviving horrifying situations, he loses his innocence and then his mind.

Writers: Ales Adamovich, Ales Adamovich

Cast:

Aleksey Kravchenko

Florya Gaishun

(as A. Kravchenko)


Olga Mironova

Glasha

(as O. Mironova)


Liubomiras Lauciavicius

Kosach

(as L. Lautsyavichius)


Vladas Bagdonas


Jüri Lumiste


Viktor Lorents


Kazimir Rabetsky


Yevgeni Tilicheyev


Aleksandr Berda


G. Velts


V. Vasilyev


Igor Gnevashev


Vasili Domrachyov


G. Yelkin


Ye. Kryzhanovsky

Release Date: 17 October 1985



Technical Specs

Runtime:


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Argentina:
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USA:



Did You Know?

Trivia:

The original name of the film was supposed to be "Kill Hitler." The name had to be changed because it was deemed inappropriate at that time.

Goofs:

Anachronisms:
Several Germans can be see wielding MP or STG 44's which were not in service until summer 1944 (this film is set in 1943).



User Review

One of the greatest wars films ever made

Rating: 10/10


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. Poetic and very personal, its sense
of shock anticipates the heightened anguish that ultimately
reverberates through Come And See. Through his images, the director
stares uncomprehendingly at a world where lives are removed cruelly and
without reason, if on this occasion not just one, but thousands.

At the heart of the narrative is Floyra, both viewer and victim of the
appalling events making up the film's narrative, his history a
horrendous coming-of-age story. It begins with him laboriously digging
out a weapon to use and much changed at the end, he finally uses one.
As he travels from initial innocence, through devastating experience,
on to stunned hatred, in a remarkable process he ages before our eyes,
both inside and out. His fresh face grows perceptibly more haggard as
the film progresses, frequently staring straight back at the camera, as
if challenging the viewer to keep watching; or while holding his numbed
head, apparently close to mental collapse. Often shot directly at the
boy or from his point of view, the formal quality of Klimov's film owes
something to Tarkovsky's use of the camera in Ivan's Childhood,
although the context is entirely different.

The film'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.

Main character Floyra is the director's witness to events, a horrified
visitor forced, like us to 'see' – even if full comprehension
understandably follows more slowly. For instance during their return to
the village, there is some doubt as to if Floyra is yet, or will be
ever, able to fully acknowledge the nature of surrounding events. In
one of the most disturbing scenes out of a film full of them, Glasha's
reaction to off-screen smells and sights is profoundly blithe and
unsettling. So much so, we wonder for a brief while if the youngsters
really know what is going on. Its a watershed of innocence: one look
back as the two leave and the reality of the situation would surely
overwhelm Floyra – just as later, more explicit horrors do the viewer.

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. Kravchenko's face is
unforgettable during this and other experiences, and there are claims
that he was hypnotised in order to simulate the proper degree of shell
shock during one of the major early sequences. The sonic distortion
created on the soundtrack at this point later appeared to a lesser
extent in Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, as did elements of a
much-commented scene where a cow is caught in murderous crossfire.
Klimov's camera ranges through and around the atrocities, although one
doubts that a steady cam was available. By the end Florya is isolated
from humanity, technically as well as mentally, by a striking shot that
excludes the middle foreground. Disturbingly expressionistic though
these scenes are, others such as the scene where Florya and the
partisan girl Rose visit the forest after the bombing, achieve an eerie
lyricism that are however entirely missing from the Hollywood
production. And whereas Spielberg's work concludes with a dramatic
irony that's perhaps a little too neat, contrived for different
audience tastes, Klimov's less accommodating epic finishes on a unique,
cathartic moment – no doubt partly chosen to avoid any bathos after
events just witnessed, but one which sends real blame back generations.

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. This 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. By the end of their own
viewing, any audience ought to be shocked enough to pick up a rifle
themselves and vengefully join the home army setting out to fight the
Great Patriotic War – a necessarily stalwart response without limit of
participation, symbolised by the director who tracks a camera through
the dense forest before finally rejoining a column of soldiers heading
to the front. If you feel, like I do, 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.