Saturday, April 11, 2015

Иди и смотри (Come and See) (1985)

Director: Elem Klimov
Writers:  Ales Adamovich, Elem Klimov
Cast:       Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Luibomiras Lauciavicius
Language: Russian

After finding an old rifle, a young boy joins a Russian partisans group (Russian resistance in Nazi occupied lands) and experiences the horrors of the Eastern front during second world war. Despite his protests from his mother, he joins the partisans with boyish glee but is left behind in their camps in the woods along those who are not ready to march on. He remains unharmed, along with a girl with whom he gets friendly there, as the Germans bomb the camp. He finds out that his whole family was killed along with many villagers due to German reprisals for aiding partisans. By then he is fully aware about the horrors of war but he is still not ready to see what comes next as he witnesses a village and its inhabitants gets torched by Nazis as part of their scorched earth policy during retreat.

The films begins in a Belarusian village in 1943. So by that time Germans had faced decisive defeat in battle of Stalingrad and in effect had lost the war. The film is from the view point of a boy who is in Nazi occupied parts of Soviet Union and were among the most affected people in the war as they became victims to the brutal fight between the occupying Germans and Russian partisans. They were looked down upon by the partisans for not joining the resistance and used to loot them for their supplies. They also became victims to German reprisals for supposedly aiding and abetting partisans. When Soviet Union finally won the war and Nazis began to retreat, they suffered even more as their villages were scorched by the latter. I had been watching some documentaries on second world war and the eastern front recently and was fully aware about the horrors that happened in that front. Western Front was child's play compared to the brutalities committed in the East. The film gives a visual depiction of the same with an excellent central performance from Aleksey Kravchenko, who plays the role of the  protagonist. If you want to get the full picture regarding Eastern front you may watch: War of the Century: When Hitler Fought Stalin. Come & See is more of a micro view but it is essentially what you want to see, through the eyes of a foot soldier, since most films want to depict a story which is of strategic significance to the outcome of war. It is a shame that we don't get more films based on Eastern Front and the films done by the Hollywood machinery will live you with a blinkered view on the war. It is laughable that some people put films like Saving Private Ryan as a candidate for the greatest war film. 

I had been meaning to watch this film for a long time but couldn't manage for some reason or the other. Am glad that I procrastinated because in the meantime I had seen those documentaries that were  refereed to earlier. I was kind of prepared to see what the film depicts and could make more sense of it. The title of the film comes from Chapter 6 of 'Revelation of St. John', in which 'Come and See' is said in the first, third, fifth and seventh verses; as an invitation to look upon the destruction caused by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Towards the end of film, we see the boy firing at a portrait of Hitler, while the archival footage go back in reverse through the events of war, Hitler'r rise, first world war and finally to a picture of a baby Hitler in his mother's hand. At that point the boy refuses to shoot and it kind of solidify the Russian bias in the film. But you can't really fault them for it and at the end of it you do see some perverse justification for the atrocities committed in Germany by the Red Army as they marched to Berlin.

Rating: 5/5