“This movie is one of two movies that have been the closest I’ve ever come to feeling like I was watching a dream, the other being Maya Deren’s Meshes in the Afternoon. The scene when the boy is stuck in the bog just set off my, “I’m trying to run but not going anywhere wake up wake up wake up!” dream reaction, hardcore. The sound design is brilliant too, thinking of post-rock/noise/weird music.”
The bog scene is unforgettable. no doubt.
I especially appreciate how the film is shot from the perspective of a boy instead of a soldier. If it was a soldier, I feel as though Klimov would fall into the trap of filming exciting combat scenes, which would be detrimental to the point of the movie. This is a true anti-war movie that sucks all of the energy out of violence.
It’s got that great surrealistic edge to it. That’s what set it apart. It is like taking the experience of being there and tinkering with it—-pushing it with the strident sound design, colors—-to help at least get closer to the actual experience of being there in person, not at home watching a DVD…
I was blown away. I agree all the energy is sucked away from combat violence. The boy’s perspective is a brilliant one—-it carries with it an extra amount of disbelief at the horrors of war because he’s so young!
I’ve finally seen this amazing film. 5/5.
A truly brutal and unsentimental WWII film told from the perspective of a child. Brilliant in every way, with more than a handful of scenes that fall under the “seared into your mind” category.
One of the very best war films I’ve ever seen.
One the best film ever made.
ALEX K: Perhaps the film you have not fully understood, Elem Klimov did not make a propaganda film, he admits to not being a communist. “Come and See” is a deeply anti-Nazi films, but is also a film that teaches the value of Resistance to safeguard their survival.
This is a very effective and affecting picture. It has become one of my favs. I must admit I had the same feelings as Alex K. The German soldiers and collaborating Belarusians as presented are so evil and corrupted that they seem like figures from a Hieronymus Bosch painting. The film is so unrelentingly authentic in tone that this representation of the enemy totally took me out of the moment the first time I saw it. On reflection though I came to the conclusion that this view of the enemy isn’t a function of some pressure from Soviet controllers for propaganda purposes but, like everything else in the film, the boy’s perception of the horrors he is enduring. In that sense it is a Hieronymus Bosch painting.
This is streaming on mubi for a few more days. I’m debating whether to see this. For one thing, it’s not a short film, and I have a hard time sitting through a film that’s over two hours (not to mention finding the time). For another thing, I don’t really need convincing that war is awful, and so seeing a film whose point is to depict the horrors of war is not a big motivator. So if this is like Platoon, only way better, I’m not sure I’d want to see this. Still, I’m considering this because of the high praise the film has gotten. I’m open to being persuaded, so if anyone has any case to make, let me know.
It’s very good, Jazz. You should definitely try to find the time.
(I wouldn’t even mention it in the same breath as Platoon).
On one hand I have a kneejerk reaction against hearing it called the greatest WWII flick of all time.
On the other hand I can’t think of many better ones. Casablanca’s one, Traveling Players is another. But no WWII film portrays the personal desperation and constant fear of being slaughtered than Come and See. Some amazing child performances, some amazing use of sets and makeup. A great film.
To be clear, I wasn’t trying to say it was on the same level. Is it the same type of film—i.e., a film that really shows the horrors of war in a graphic and vivid way? After watching Platoon, I dreaded the prospects of going to war. (When the first Iraq War occurred, the movie was still fresh in a my mind.) So if Come and See basically has the same approach, I’m not too keen on seeing it—even if it’s a great film. I got the message. Now, if there’s something more to the film or the filmmaking is really that exceptional, maybe I’ll considering seeing it.
But no WWII film portrays the personal desperation and constant fear of being slaughtered than Come and See.
Is there significantly more to the film than what you describe?
I love WWII movies, and have studied the period extensively. There are many greats but some unsung ones are:
The Best Years of Our Lives
Diamonds of the Night
The Red and the White
The latter is my very favorite war film ever for one reason—it does not choose sides. It shows war as it is—a stupid and terrible thing without winners.
The Red and the White is not a WWII film, but yes its content is universal – that both sides in a battle suffer terribly.
The Human Condition gets my vote for the greatest World War 2 film.
You’re right. I was thinking war film.
Watch Come and See as soon as you can, its really one of the most visceral and moving experiences you can have watching a film. One of the great, great war films, along with The Red and The White and All Quiet on The Western Front.
To add to the chorus—Come and See is incredible. Beautiful and terrible.
OK, but did you take into account my concerns? I do not need any more convincing that war is awful. It’s like I don’t need any more convincing about the horrors of the Holocaust. I haven’t seen The Sorrow and the Pity, but I have seen Shoah and other films about the Holocaust. The Sorrow and the Pity may be a great film and it may even be a far better film than any of the other Holocaust films, but if it’s main purpose and value is to show how terrible the Holocaust was, I don’t have much interest in seeing it.
If you and HoL, think I should see it—knowing my concerns—I’ll make the effort over the weekend.
Jazz—I will say this: That as far as I know you (as much as is possible in this forum), your main concern is the same as the main concern of art itself—to illuminate the human condition.
Does Come and See add to what you have already seen on the topic? I can’t say. It deals with similar themes of cruelty and humanity that you have likely seen in many other films on the subject.
But there are unique moments in the film that no other possesses. It will be worth your time, methinks. And I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
Come and See throws us into the horrors of war. But it isn’t war, we are still spectators and the powerful jolts we experience are still entertainment, and may be experienced as a fierce buzz of excitement, an hallucinatory trip. Admittedly, it’s harsher than than Apocalypse Now’s glamourisation, it has us sharing the experiences of a child, not combatants as in Private Ryan’s video game, and some may find it numbing, rather than a whirling blast. I don’t fancy Come and See’s particular trip again. .
The Human Condition is a greater world war 2 film. I also liked Night of the Shooting Stars, a very different kettle of fish to Come and See, though not without its horrors. Now often overlooked, Oscar winner and box office hit The Best Years of our Lives is a superb film, on the aftermath, picking up the pieces, return to social routine. Cinema has dumbed down since then, catering more for teenage boys and rollercoaster action.
OK, I’ll make the effort. Thanks.
Kenji said, I also liked Night of the Shooting Stars,…
I also like this film quite a bit. (No one seems to talk about that film very much.)
It was interesting reading studies of Kalatozov and Tarkovsky in regard to The Cranes are Flying and Ivan’s Childhood. Neither set out to make a war movie. This was the established genre at the time and they had to work with the theme if they expected to get a picture made. You can see in both films that the directors were drawing far beyond the standard conventions set down by the Soviet censors, and made very compelling films. Klimov’s film came along much later and presents a riveting account of the War as told from the Belarussian perspective, a perspective he felt had been overlooked in Soviet film for obvious reasons. I don’t think the film would have seen the light of day if it wasn’t for Perestroika. But, there are so many great Soviet war movies, that it is hard to single out one as the best. Larisa Shepitko (who was married to Klimov) did a great job in The Ascent.
I got a kick out of Tarrantino’s comments on the Time Out list, but surprised he hadn’t seen Come and See. I think it is a bit of a stretch to say he saw Cross of Iron when it first came out.
Honestly, if you take the non-battle scenes out of Saving Private Ryan (especially the embarrassing family bookend), you have one of the most honest and brutal depictions of war ever put on film. Nothing glorious in those scenes. Watch Giovani Ribisi call for his mama. That’s just one scene in the middle of the film. Half of the film is a muddled and half-baked mess, but the war scenes themselves are perhaps the best advice against combat in film I’ve ever seen..
I avoided Ryan. I suppose mostly for all the attention it garnered. A film that really made an impact on me was Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies.
HoL said, Honestly, if you take the non-battle scenes out of Saving Private Ryan (especially the embarrassing family bookend), you have one of the most honest and brutal depictions of war ever put on film.
(Nodding my head, although obviously I haven’t seen Come and See)
A film that really made an impact on me was Takahata’s Grave of the Fireflies.
Yeah, that hit me, too. It takes a completely different tack, but it’s not less powerful.
On a slightly related note, I just watched Boris Barnet’s Outskirts, and it’s a good anti-war film (although it’s about WWI).
Come and See works equally well as a psychological horror (like the Shining).
I really like how the sound plays a part in the story.
Only seen it once but remember there are a lot of “magical” scenes before it goes into full brutality.
I think Kenji’s take on CaS is a rather interesting one. It has occurred to me that perhaps the film, in reducing this boys experiences during the war into a series of beautiful images, this might infact be a kind of glamourisation, but I think the incredible beauty is also jarring, kind of unexpected and therefore disorientating. It makes you dizzy. I think it does a good job of showing us a childs view of whats happening, particularly at the end, images like the Gernman general in a jeep with his pet monkey (if I remember correctly), in a way its like hes this Hollywood bond cliche. The exaggerated nature of the end makes it seem like pure fantasy, when infact these things happened. Honestly Jazz, you have to watch it atleast once. If youre worried about becoming depressed, Id say this wasnt the primary effect it had on me. I just felt like my nerves had been shredded. Perhaps it is a sin to make war beautiful, though.
I strongly disagree on calling Saving Private Ryan honest. It is a film version of a popular trend that is best summed up by the phrase “The Greatest Generation.” Private Ryan embodies this kind of thinking: “We sent our school teachers over there to fight the Nazis, and we clung to our humanity against all odds, and we cried, and in the end came home heroes.” The antidote to this kind of thinking is to read the great Pacific theater memoirs “With the Old Breed” and to a lesser extent “Helmet for My Pillow.” No film (nor mini-series) can capture what these books capture. One also has to think of Normandy Vet Sam Fuller’s statement that soldier’s mind set is about survival and nothing else. The problem with Spielberg is at no point can resist he wrapping up even the smallest scene with a ribbon, giving it “meaning”- even if the meaning is supposed to have irony (like the “coward” killing the Nazi he had saved) What every war memoir I’ve read has tried to convey is the mind-numbing meaningless. (I haven’t read any of the pro-war memoirs which are out there) Spielberg, as always, is well intentioned and is no doubt a humanist, but this film is closer to propaganda then it first seems. (I liked it the first time I saw it – despite it’s obvious mistakes. I still find the sniper subplot fairly resonant) The “greatest generation” trend has something to do with baby-boomer guilt and an understandable fascination with world war 2, which I share, so I recognize it when I see it.
I totally forgot about Human Condition because for some reason when you say WWII I only think ‘Nazis’. Human Condition is incredible.
It’s true Saving Private Ryan had some great combat scenes but the drama is manipulative to nauseating extremes, dripped in unearned sentiment.
Interesting that the Time Out skipped over a lot of Holocaust movies, notably Agnieszka Holland’s Europa, Europa, which I thought was an excellent movie. Lina Wertmuller’s Seven Beauties is also very good. Also surprises me that Hiroshima Mon Amour wasn’t considered, but then I guess it didn’t have enough action in it ; ) On another note, I liked Mike Nichols take on Catch-22, and where is Slaughterhouse-Five?
Oh yes, for me, Hiroshima mon Amour is the best war film of all. It often gets overlooked in these discussions, because it is set in the late 50s and the war becomes a memory, and there’s a lot more to it than war. We can tend to pigeonhole films into neat genres. It shows the effects of war years later, on individuals and national psyche. It raises interesting questions of nationality, patriotism, shifting international allegances, love and collaboration, group revenge, and of course there’s the devastation of the atom bomb. We may in some wars count the overall casualties, the dead, but then attention turns to other things and the ongoing effects are overlooked. Beyond physical injuries the stress experienced by simply one individual will impact on offspring and theirs in turn. I find Riva’s experience very painful, and complexity arises because she acts from love that transcends nationalism, and yet whatever her intentions, her love for an individual represents- certainly to other French- support for Nazism, which set barriers based on nationality; her feelings also ironically counter Nazism.
“Hiroshima Mon Amour wasn’t considered, but then I guess it didn’t have enough action in it ; )”
Actually, Dzimas, i do think that is a reason for its not being thought of. We’re conditioned to think of war as action and killing, battle scenes. .