Monday, March 5, 2012
Come and See
Originally titled Kill Hitler, Come and See is a Soviet film from 1985 by Elem Klimov. It takes place during the German invasion of Russia and focuses on the brutality of the Einsatzgrppen, the evil psychotic offshoot of the Nazi SS in charge of mass killings and the burnings of villages that ended the lives of over ¼ million people in Belarus alone. The story concerns a Beylorussian boy left behind to fend for himself after his entire village is murdered and the psychological terror he experiences while witnessing the mind-boggling horrors bestowed upon his people. This is seriously dark material. Klimov focuses on inner moments of crisis in the boys mind- like a drawn out close up of his face as he finally comes to grips with the fact that his family is dead. Klimov does not shy away from anything- he shows things how they went down. He based the film on actual testimony from survivors. And although some of the more heinous atrocities against children (eaten alive by dogs) are understandably shied away from there is still enough here to make you completely lose faith in humanity. Cinematically this movie is a trip and very experimental (as implied in one of the most amazing film posters ever, above), making excellent use of POV Steadicam and weird sound effects. Klimov never made another film after this. The story had been told, and indeed, I had no idea how bad it got in that part of the world until I saw this movie and read up on it. This is not a film for the light-hearted but those interested in the unfettered dark side of history or in the cinematic arts in general, this is a deep and disturbing masterwork of the highest order.