Starring: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomiras Laucevičius
Director: Elem Klimov
Running Time: 142 mins
Come And See (Иди и смотри) is a Soviet film about a boy who becomes involved in the Soviet resistance against the Nazi invasion in World War II, experiencing the horrors of war as he becomes deeper embroiled in the conflict.
While the brutality of war is a topic that’s been shown on the big screen time and time again, there are few – if any – films quite like Come And See. A devastatingly immersive experience that pulls you into the chaos and destruction of conflict, the film delivers harrowing emotion alongside thought-provoking and deeply powerful historical insight.
Now, if you’ve heard of Come And See before, you’ll know that it has a reputation as one of the most legendarily depressing films ever made. However, having now seen the film for myself, I don’t think ‘depressing’ is quite the right word.
On the one hand, it seems too light a description; after all, this film showcases an unparalleled insight into the realities of living right in the middle of conflict, never holding back as it portrays the devastating impact of battle and atrocities on a local population.
On the other hand, though, Come And See is so much more than a typically depressing film. It’s intense to an almost spectacular extent, with powerful, thought-provoking drama and emotion that gives you an entirely different sensation to a merely ‘depressing’ watch.
In that, the film doesn’t just deserve praise because of its heavy-going portrayal of the horrors of war, but also for its staggering depth, detailing a well-trodden story with unique perspective and greater insight than any other film.
Its portrayal of the suffering caused by the Nazi invasion in the Soviet Union is brutal to say the least, with unforgiving and at times devastatingly graphic depiction of just how atrocious the actions of the German soldiers and army as a whole were in the Soviet Union.
Different to Hollywood and British World War Two movies, Come And See is unique in the way it grabs you by the throat and makes you understand just how devastating the conflict was in the Soviet Union.
Furthered by its striking cinematography that blends gorgeous and elegant camerawork with intense, gritty and often claustrophobic visuals, there’s barely a moment to breathe. And as you’re pulled further and further into a conflict that’s not far from hell on earth, that intensity and resonance is impossible to escape.
The film’s core message centres on the idea that in conflict no blade of grass is left unharmed, no idyllic landscape left unscathed, and no child – no matter how innocent – left the same way.
From its devastating portrayal of the destruction of the Soviet landscape to the harrowing descent into madness, confusion and horror of our young lead, Come And See leaves no stone unturned in its depiction of the wide-ranging effects of war.
As we watch young Aleksey Kravchenko visibly age before us, the sheer toll of the war on the individual is devastatingly clear. But more than that, Come And See demonstrates just how destructive a conflict such as this can prove for an individual, a community and even a whole country.
Overall, there’s no denying just how intense and powerful a war drama Come And See is. With an incredibly resonant anti-war message that delivers staggering insight and emotional depth throughout, it’s a spectacular and unavoidably difficult watch.
But more than simply being a depressing, harrowing look at the conflict of war, the film strikes up thought-provoking and difficult themes about the long-lasting and wide-ranging consequences of war, as well as an unparalleled insight into the real-life atrocities of the Nazis in the Soviet Union, and the unimaginable suffering of the local communities in the region.