Come And See (1985)

Director:  Elem Klimov
Cast:  Aleksey KravchenkoOlga MironovaLiubomiras Lauciavicius 
Plot:  A boy is unwillingly thrust into the atrocities of war in WWII Byelorussia, fighting for a hopelessly unequipped resistance movement against the ruthless German forces.

Genre:  Drama / War
Awards:  -
Runtime:  142min
Rating:  NC16 for war violence and disturbing images.

What do Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line (1998) and Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan (1998) have in common?  Both drew inspiration from this 1985 WWII masterpiece by Russian director Elem Klimov.  Come And See was originally titled as Kill Hitler but was eventually changed due to its inappropriateness at that time.

The release of this film marked the peak of Klimov's filmmaking career which had mostly been a stop-start affair with few notable pictures.  Come And See also represented one of the defining moments of 1980s Russian cinema which was, and still is a great source of rich, quality films. 

There are two kinds of war pictures.  Compare Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down (2001) to Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) and you will see my point.  Come And See is less of an all-out actioner.  Instead, it concentrates on character development and shows how war can be destabilizing to the mind through quiet, dramatic scenes and brutal, stark images.

The horror of war and the dehumanizing acts committed against innocent Russian villagers by Hitler's Third Reich are seen through the eyes of a teenager, Florya, whom was forced to enlist to fight against the Nazis. 

Florya is played by Aleksei Kravchenko who gives a subdued display of contempt and disgust; he shows little facial emotions and seems unfazed to what is happening around him.  However, the hatred towards the oppressor continues to build up inside him, and towards the end in what was one of the most stunning 'reverse' montage sequences ever edited on film, he unleashes his fury by blasting round after round from his rifle towards the ground where a framed picture of Hitler lay.

Come And See showcases scene after scene of picturesque visuals by master cinematographer Aleksei Rodionov.  Shots of vast, open plains and warm, misty rainforests serve as a beautiful backdrop and a grim contrast to the howls and screams of humanity and unlucky animals caught in between.

Come And See has quite a number of tracking shots that Kubrick would have been proud of, highlighting the technical proficiency of Klimov.  This was the director's final shot at a masterpiece before he closed the curtains on his career.  In a country that has produced filmmaking greats such as Eisenstein and Tarkovsky, Klimov's Come And See is a strong testament to that golden era of Russian cinema.

GRADE: A (9/10 or 4.5 stars)

Click here to go back to Central Station.



Popular Posts