The Bummer of Anti-war Films
By hook or by crook, a debate about most war films always paints the essence and substance whether Come and See is a blare of glimpse. Even François Truffaut and Steven Spielberg’s arguments about war films show that most film directors cannot make anti-war films effectively because they are fun or unpleasant. Most directors, film critics, or most would say that Come and See, directed by Elem Klimov, is one of the most influential war films. This 1985 film from Russia is one of the most devastating films about anything, and within, most people are bound to witness an arthouse bummer.
The Book of Revelation
Elem Klimov’s portrayal of Come and See as the blare of glimpse is unblinking of Nazi soldiers launching a massacre in the Byelorussian Soviet in 1943; all the epic visions disturb and fascinate with fresh eyes as they transform Klimov’s lenses into a portrait of a man on fire. Originally titled Kill Hitler, Come and See ranks among the most disturbing art pieces along with arthouse films such as Apocalypse Now, The Seventh Seal, and Requiem for a Dream. The title comes from The Book of Revelation: A Testament to the Lamb of God.
The Book of Revelation opens the fourth seal of the revelation scroll. John hears the voice of the fourth beast say come and see. He saw a pale horse sitting on top of Death and Hell following behind. In the jungles of Soviet, Byelorussian, looking impenetrable and vast plains of bewilderment, Klimov created a lush landscape for death. He puts hell in a soul-shrink rage to stay on the face of a teenager for all eternity. A circular journey brings back to where Klimov started with a series of close-up images; it gives a classic touch of the philosophy of existence.
The Subsequent Phase
Come and See begins its blare of glimpse with an ambiguous scene where a man yells orders to another person but is nowhere to be seen on the beach. It was revealed that he called the children to hide among the reeds. They played war games and dug in the sand in search of weapons hidden or lost during previous conflicts. Florya, the child, is about 14 years old, and lives close to his family.
In 1943, Hitler’s troops attacked the Soviet republic of Byelorussian, and Florya dreamed of becoming a heroic partisan and wanted to defend his homeland. He wanted to leave home and volunteer regardless of his family forbidding him. However, when the incident is exposed, he goes, is accepted, and is forced to replace his new shoes with worn veteran boots while the warrior wing takes him.
Florya is still young and even looks younger than his age in the initial scenes but is much older in the subsequent stages little by little. Like being posted as a guard, he wanted to do an excellent job, being told to shoot anyone who did not know a password at first. At some point, he challenged a girl barely older than him not to shoot him because he never shot anyone. After growing friendly, Glasha, the innocent girl, dreams of a future regardless.
Florya is not very good at talking and mentally slow will not be touched. Come and See follows Florya’s journey throughout the blare of glimpse, stopping to see horror details. In particular, after being separated, there is a scene where he and the girl return to his family farm. He was expecting a warm welcome, but no one was there. The soup pot was still hot, but suddenly, he became sure that he knew where they were going and ran together to an island in the swamp while denying a view he did not want to see.
The Horror of View
A deviation from the point of view, the noise to stop not allowed Florya regardless of not seeing the only horror. Florya finds himself in a village when the Nazi invaders arrive. There is an ongoing sequence as they methodically round up all the villagers and lock them in a warehouse. While the images evoke the Holocaust, when he enters as part of the simmering crowd, Florya’s eyes never leave the window far above the floor. The only instinct in life is to avoid death regardless of the parents, children, and babies also gathered.
The Nazis are calling for all healthy men to come out. The fathers stayed with their families, but Florya rushed out of the window. However, the Nazis set fire to the warehouse, and the double-locked doors lifted out of despair was a terrifying sight, and they had to avoid easy shortcuts. However, they could only stand behind. Many Russian films have also depicted the horrors of Nazism even though Adolf Hitler was a safe target and a convenient substitute for a closer political allegory. Come and See is more than just the blare of glimpse, describing human cruelty and evil both politically and humanely.
Elem Klimov, in trivia, tries to hypnotize Kravchenko, the protagonist, during his most devastating scene. He was unsuccessful because Kravchenko also refused. Conversely, Klimov enthralls the audience; besides, Klimov appeals as a born player and excellent emotional transparency. He brought Florya from a toddler right and precarious youth to a vigilant premature adult. Many viewers are too caught up in Florya’s anxiety to judge Kravchenko’s artistry in addition to Kravchenko’s expressive features inviting thoughts to the mind and soul. Klimov also used sound and images to frame the film in an unorthodox manner that drew Flyora’s future.
The Frantic Motion of Sound
The innovative sound design filters out audio in part through Flyora’s broken ears and souls. Some also lead to the director’s sensibility by hearing Strauss’ waltz, especially when Flyora can barely maintain a footing. The sound achieved a nerve-wracking crackle realism during the destruction of the village only to stabilize climactic enlightenment. Aleksey Rodionov used a Steadicam, not for subtle effects but to trace the curved serrations in a frantic, irrational motion. The subjectivity scheme, related to Flyora’s perspective, assumes a point of view and other alternate characters.
S.S. Major Sturmbannführer was the ultimate Nazi monster, a kind and heartless creature. He played with the bit of a simian pet; it was not fun stuck to its neck. He is also almost diligent in his assassination orders apart from his detachment manifesting power, which Florya never possessed for a moment. Even though the helpless Florya survived, his mind shook with shock, and he saw himself. People would like to think the depiction of the Nazis is exaggerated, but the truth is not.
The final title says the Nazis burned down more than 600 Byelorussian villages and everyone inside and original footage of Holocaust victims. It is hard to believe when Florya survived all the horrors he witnessed. For Klimov, he told Ron Holloway in an interview that Ales Adamovich, the film’s screenwriter, was the same age as the hero on Come and See. He and his family fought with partisans and witnessed a genocide carried out by the Nazis on Byelorussian soil.
Come and See stands out in Klimov, using facts to spark imagination about the disaster, taking a new perspective on each action. He aimed at depressing sights such as the village elder’s face, neck, and burning shoulders. When expecting Klimov to avert his gaze, he allowed the viewer to see the beauty of the beacon into the night before overcoming the havoc ahead. Sensitivity to color and texture causes swamps and forests to affect perspective. A mini tale of resilience and baptism ends when a partisan warrior named Rubezh escorts Florya and Glasha into the pockets of the survivors. Realistic incidents pushing the threshold of expressionism, in symbolic revenge, help make a statue of Hitler and carry the figure.
The Vivid Image
Come and See depicts brutality and is very vivid despite any overlay of exaggerated muted nightmares. The swamp traversed by Florya and Glasha has a thick gelatinous top layer that looks like vivid yet evil skin. There is a pattern in which Florya is involved with cows, which will feed the hungry troops where he and the cows are in a field covered in thick fog when machine-gun fire occurs. The animal’s death is told in a series of images, reflecting the inevitable cessation of life.
The life of the cow is cursed in one way or another. However, it is an utterly incomprehensible death. The nightmare escalated when Florya got too close, in the first sequence, to artillery bombardment. Voices become inaudible, become deaf, and there is a faint ringing, making a frustrating voice out of range a reality. There was a strange scene in the forest, the sun was setting through the leaves, when the soundtrack, gloomy and sad, suddenly appeared on Mozart, sending off from despair.
- Holloway, R. (2008). Interview with Elem Klimov. Kinema: A Journal for Film and Audiovisual Media.
- Michaels, L. (2008). Come and See (1985): Klimov’s Intimate Epic. Quarterly review of film and video, 25(3), 212-218.
- Monnet, A. S. (2016). Is There Such a Thing as an Antiwar Film?. A Companion to the War Film, 404.
- Sragow, M. (2020). Deep Focus: Come and See. Film Comment Magazine.