Thursday, March 24, 2011

Come and See (1985)

Come and See is an extremely graphic war film from Russia set in Belarus in 1943 showing Germany's atrocities against the native Belarussians.  A closing narrative says the Nazis burned down 628 villages with all of their inhabitants.  A very long scene in this film shows one of these villages being torched with all of its villagers being rounded up into a barn and set on fire.  This film requires a strong stomach to sit through, but it's a reminder that the Eastern Front of World War II had a far more gruesome experience. 

The main character is a boy, probably around 13 years old, who is idealistic in the beginning and begs to join the partisans.  He digs up an old rifle as the required entry fee.  By the end, this 13 year old looks like a haggard old man after everything he witnesses.  The scenery reminds me of Defiance, a film from two years ago about Belarussian Jews becoming partisans in the forest starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber.  This film is far more realistic though.  The mud, the weather, the screaming...there is no Hollywood gloss or sentimentality here.  There is certainly no one left looking like Daniel Craig or Liev Schreiber either.  These are real people.

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