Movie Poster of the Week: Elem Klimov’s “Come and See”

A collection of posters for one of the most harrowing war films ever made.
Adrian Curry

One of the most anticipated re-releases of the year is Janus Films’ 35th anniversary restoration of Elem Klimov’s gut-wrenching World War II saga Come and See, a coming-of-age film from hell if ever there was one. If one visual stands out in Klimov’s masterpiece it is the haunted face of its star Aleksey Kravchenko staring directly into the camera. Kravchenko was only 14 when he starting filming but he seems to age visibly before your eyes during the film’s 142 minute running time.

That face has naturally been the basis of most of the best posters for the film over the years, most especially Igor Pavlovich Lemeshev’s superb design above in which the title is printed in tiny letters between Kravchenko’s seen-it-all eyes. Sovexportfilm used Lemeshev’s poster in various international territories and it is to my mind one of the all-time great movie posters.

Janus Films’ 2020 U.S. restoration poster, below, painted by Jaxon Northon, riffs on Lemeshev’s design while making Kravchenko look even more cowed and terrified. 

What seems to be the original Russian poster for the film also focuses on that face, above a silhouette of burning buildings (another unforgettable visual of the film) and against shadows of German soldiers.

A second Russian poster has even more stylized images of fire, above a montage of photographs.

And then there is the wonderful Ukrainian poster which sets more stylized burning buildings against a close-up of the boy’s face, red from the flames.

The Polish poster for the film, by Romuald Socha, distills the world into a shattered, bloodied hemet, (just two years before Philip Castle’s helmet design for Full Metal Jacket.)

And the Czech design by Zdenek Vlach is typically cryptic, with what looks like a flying lizard above a ruined doorway.

The poster below does much the same as the original Russian domestic design, with shadowy Nazis behind the boy’s head (looking unusually happy), but I haven’t been able to figure out what language the title—Ugu u Cuompu—is in.

The two East German posters for the film are relatively straight forward monochrome designs, one using Albrecht Dürer’s Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as its main image.

In France the film is called Requiem Pour un Massacre and the French re-release poster by Gilles Vranckx is quite similar to Northon’s for Janus, albeit with the addition of more shadowy soldiers and burning buildings. (Vranckx also recently illustrated the poster for Hélène Cattet and Bruno Forzani’s Let the Corpses Tan.)

Quite different from anything else created for the film is this 2016 special edition screenprint by Brazilian artist Joao Ruas.

And finally here are two beautiful fan-art watercolors for the film by the talented and prolific Tony Stella.

Elem Klimov's Come and See is showing February 21 – March 3, 2020 at Film Forum in New York.

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Movie Poster of the WeekElem KlimovAleksey KravchenkoIgor Pavlovich LemeshevJaxon NorthonRomuald SochaZdenek VlachGilles VranckxJoao RuasTony StellaColumns
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