Come and See

Come and See
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The invasion of a village in Byelorussia by German forces sends young Florya (Alexei Kravchenko) into the forest to join the weary Resistance fighters, against his family's wishes. There he meets a girl, Glasha (Olga Mironova), who accompanies him back to his village. On returning home, Florya finds his family and fellow peasants massacred. His continued survival amidst the brutal debris of war becomes increasingly nightmarish, a battle between despair and hope.

Title:Come and See
Original Title:Иди и смотри
Release Date:July 1, 1985
Genres:Action, Drama, History, War
Production Co.:Mosfilm, Belarusfilm
Production Countries:Russia
Director:Elem Klimov
Writers:, ,
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:war crimes, world war ii, nazis, wehrmacht, insanity, surrealism, teenage girl, atrocity, genocide, russian army, mine field, horrors of war, premature aging, byelorussia, eastern front
Alternative Titles:
  • Go and Look - [US]
  • Geh und sieh - [DE]
  • Gå och se - [SE]
  • Jöjj és lásd! - [HU]
  • Requiem pour un massacre - [FR]
  • Tule ja katso - [FI]
  • Idi i Smotri - [RU]
  • Masacre: ven y mira - [ES]
  • Idi i gledaj - [RS]
  • Ven y mira - [ES]
  • Va et regarde - [FR]
  • Ven y mira - [UY]
  • Come and See - [US]
  • Gel ve gör - [TR]
  • Έλα να δεις - [GR]
  • Vem e Vê - [PT]
  • Masacre (ven y mira) - [ES]
  • Vino si vezi - [RO]
  • Ven y mira - [AR]
  • Ela na deis - [GR]
  • Иди и виж - [BG]
  • Come and See - [AU]
  • Иди и смотри - [RU]
  • Ga en kijk - [BE]
  • Kom en zie - [NL]
  • Come and See - [GB]
  • Idz i patrz - [PL]
  • Gå og se - [NO]
  • Come and See - [CA]
  • Gå og se - [DK]
  • Viens et vois - [FR]
  • Va' e vedi - [IT]
  • Vá e Veja - [BR]
  • Honoo 628 - [JP]

Come and See Reviews

  • One of the greatest wars films ever made
    by FilmFlaneur on 29 December 2004

    302 out of 336 people found the following review useful:

    One of the greatest of all war films, Klimov's stunning work stands amongst such works in which the horror and sorrow of conflict are made fresh over again for the viewer, left to stumble numb from the cinema thereafter. Produced for the 40th anniversary of Russia's triumph over the German invaders in WW2, based upon a novella by a writer who was a teenage partisan during the war, the propagandist use to which it was later put - when the GDR was still in the Eastern Bloc, citizens were forced to watch this to warn them of another rise of fascism - does not impair its effect today at all. It echoes intensity found in another masterpiece by the director. Klimov's shorter Larissa (1980) is a remorseful elegy to his late wife. Poetic and very personal, its sense of shock anticipates the heightened anguish that ultimately reverberates through Come And See. Through his images, the director stares uncomprehendingly at a world where lives are removed cruelly and without reason, if on this occasion not just one, but thousands.

    At the heart of the narrative is Floyra, both viewer and victim of the appalling events making up the film's narrative, his history a horrendous coming-of-age story. It begins with him laboriously digging out a weapon to use and much changed at the end, he finally uses one. As he travels from initial innocence, through devastating experience, on to stunned hatred, in a remarkable process he ages before our eyes, both inside and out. His fresh face grows perceptibly more haggard as the film progresses, frequently staring straight back at the camera, as if challenging the viewer to keep watching; or while holding his numbed head, apparently close to mental collapse. Often shot directly at the boy or from his point of view, the formal quality of Klimov's film owes something to Tarkovsky's use of the camera in Ivan's Childhood, although the context is entirely different.

    The film's title is from the Book of Revelations, referring to the summoning of witnesses to the devastation brought by the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. 'Come and See' is an invitation for its youthful protagonist to arm up and investigate the war, but also one for the audience to tread a similarly terrible path, witnessing with vivid immediacy the Belorussion holocaust at close hand. Here, the intensity of what is on offer justifies amplification by the use of a travelling camera, point-of-view shots, and some startlingly surreal effects pointing up unnatural events: the small animal clinging nervously to the German commander's arm for instance, soundtrack distortions, or the mock Hitler sculpted out of clay and skull.

    Main character Floyra is the director's witness to events, a horrified visitor forced, like us to 'see' - even if full comprehension understandably follows more slowly. For instance during their return to the village, there is some doubt as to if Floyra is yet, or will be ever, able to fully acknowledge the nature of surrounding events. In one of the most disturbing scenes out of a film full of them, Glasha's reaction to off-screen smells and sights is profoundly blithe and unsettling. So much so, we wonder for a brief while if the youngsters really know what is going on. Its a watershed of innocence: one look back as the two leave and the reality of the situation would surely overwhelm Floyra - just as later, more explicit horrors do the viewer.

    Come And See was not an easy shoot. It lasted over nine months and during the course of the action the young cast were called upon to perform some unpleasant tasks including, at one point, wading up to their necks through a freezing swamp. Kravchenko's face is unforgettable during this and other experiences, and there are claims that he was hypnotised in order to simulate the proper degree of shell shock during one of the major early sequences. The sonic distortion created on the soundtrack at this point later appeared to a lesser extent in Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan, as did elements of a much-commented scene where a cow is caught in murderous crossfire. Klimov's camera ranges through and around the atrocities, although one doubts that a steady cam was available. By the end Florya is isolated from humanity, technically as well as mentally, by a striking shot that excludes the middle foreground. Disturbingly expressionistic though these scenes are, others such as the scene where Florya and the partisan girl Rose visit the forest after the bombing, achieve an eerie lyricism that are however entirely missing from the Hollywood production. And whereas Spielberg's work concludes with a dramatic irony that's perhaps a little too neat, contrived for different audience tastes, Klimov's less accommodating epic finishes on a unique, cathartic moment - no doubt partly chosen to avoid any bathos after events just witnessed, but one which sends real blame back generations.

    Hallucinatory, heartrending, traumatic and uncompromising, such a movie will not to be all tastes. It certainly does not make for relaxing viewing, although those who see it often say it remains with them for years after. This was Klimov's last film for, as he said afterwards "I lost interest in making films. Everything that was possible I felt had already been done," no doubt referring to the emotional intensity of his masterpiece, which would be hard to top. By the end of their own viewing, any audience ought to be shocked enough to pick up a rifle themselves and vengefully join the home army setting out to fight the Great Patriotic War - a necessarily stalwart response without limit of participation, symbolised by the director who tracks a camera through the dense forest before finally rejoining a column of soldiers heading to the front. If you feel, like I do, that any real war film should succeed in conveying the power and pity of it all, then Come And See is an absolute go and watch.

  • Unbelievable
    by sellery on 14 May 2006

    248 out of 282 people found the following review useful:

    The best true-to-life war movie I have ever seen, and possibly the best movie I have ever seen. My eyes were opened when I saw this for the first time a few days ago. It made me realise what I miss 99% of the time when watching movies. So few affect me like this one did.

    No special effects of note, no big budget, no set-pieces of note, no heroes, no redemption. I feel quite sure the director has really captured what war 'feels' like - unlike Spielberg and Coppola's depictions of war, this director lived through WW2 and the horrific siege of Stalingrad, as well as spending many months researching the massacres in Belarus, one of which he depicts in this film (this from the DVD extras, well worth watching).

    The direction, cinematography, soundtrack and AMAZING acting by a first-time untrained actor in the main role are faultless, in my humble opinion.

    I found this film depressing and emotionally draining, but cannot wait to watch it again.

  • Masterpiece alert!
    by Asa_Nisi_Masa2 on 3 May 2007

    144 out of 155 people found the following review useful:

    Even before the final credits rolled, I strongly suspected this movie would end up on my Top 20; in fact, perhaps even my Top 10. A teenage boy, his hearing impaired from having just been at the site of a bombing, and a young woman clutching at him, the two of them stumbling and sludging through a slimy, smelly bog. A stork in the woods as it rains. A cluster of dolls piled up on the floor with flies buzzing all over the room. You don't need vast, elaborately choreographed battle scenes to bring home the message of the senselessness and pain of war. Reading viewers' comments on the movie, it seems that most found the second half – which admittedly contained some of the most powerful massacre scenes ever filmed – as the most "satisfying". A few other viewers seem to imply the movie doesn't really get going until the second half. For me, it was the first half that got under my skin the most, for its cinematic originality, poetry and symbolic power. War is experienced by civilians as well as by soldiers: this may seem like an obvious statement, but it's only after watching Come and See that you realise how few war movies are truly about the suffering of the ordinary man and woman, defenseless child and frail senior citizen. Also, never before had I seen the plight of raped women in war so powerfully conveyed, and all this without the movie ever being voyeuristic or graphic. In cinema, rape is often portrayed as something that looks like rough sex. It isn't always quite clear why women get so upset over it. In Come and See, rape is shown as nothing but pure, unadulterated, hate-fuelled violence with only a superficial, external resemblance to sex. Unlike other raped women on film, you cannot imagine those in Come and See ever healing from their scars.

    On another subject, whoever thinks this movie contains "propaganda" is obviously prejudiced against the movie simply because it's a Soviet production, and should think things over a little more carefully. It's astonishing how you can still find little traces of the Cold War mentality surviving to this day, even in younger viewers... The fact that as detractors of Come and See claim, Stalin "was no better than Hitler" has nothing to do with anything at all, in this movie's context - Klimov's picture is NOT about nationalistic oneupmanship on who had the worst tyrant - it's about the basic suffering of ordinary humanity in war - ANY war, though this one happened to be going on in Bielorussia. There was in fact ten times more propaganda in ten minutes of Saving Private Ryan than the whole of Come and See. This is painful, sublime cinema. I've always believed there's something special about Russians when it comes to producing art, especially literature - this movie goes some way towards reinforcing that impression in me.

  • Apocalypse Then
    by Vlad B. on 5 January 2000

    119 out of 137 people found the following review useful:

    In all fairness, this Belorussian-made World War II picture detailing Nazi atrocities, holds a special distinction in world cinema: it is by far the most brutal and emotionally draining of all - in fact, a viewer whose senses have not been properly trained would most likely find it unwatchable. Those brave souls willing to be put through an ordeal of almost 2 1/2 hours will find themselves deeply immersed in an absolutely horrifying experience that will not easily subside whether they want it to or not.

    The title, "Come and See", taken from the frequently repeating lines of the book of Revelation, clearly dares the audience to assume the role of St. John, witnessing the Apocalypse, or rather one of the darkest periods in the history of humankind. What we are assaulted with, plays somewhat like a demented version of "Modern Times" transpiring across the panel of Brueghel's "Trimuph of Death", if such a combination is possible. The camera is consistently filtered through a murky, slightly unfocused gaze, and the sound is often heard through shellshocked ears. This tends to eirly distance the events, yet make them even more frightening and unsettling. Much of the dialogue lacks specific meaning or even concrete sentences - it is replaced by subhuman growling, wailing and other spine-chilling, gluttural sounds of the war. What the director prepares is something Spielberg would never even dream of - no sign of compromise with the audience. A crowd of civilian villagers locked up in a barn by Nazi soldiers is not spared at the last minute like "Schindler List's" Jews- they are burned alive, and we get to watch all of it.

    Unlike most of the films in this genre, "Come and see" relies mainly on images and sounds instead of a coherent plot, which is not necesserily a weakness, since the sheer terror distorts time and space into a kind of hallucinatory blur, clearly intentional and understandable. But this incredible level of bleak intensity in the long run, has a negative effect on the film: the viewers have to desensitize themselves just so they can keep watching, so the most harrowing scenes are sat through in numbness.

    Another questionable move on the director's part is his occasional use of surrealism. While some visuals are painfully believable, while others are simply baffling: crazed villages consructing an effigy of Hitler, a pensive German commander with a pet slender loris (a rare African primate) on his shoulder, a female Nazi eating raw red lobster, not even mentioning a bizzare final montage wich is both inexplicable and obvious, ending with a real-life photograph that is perhaps the most terrifying of all in its implications.

    Yes, at times the movie overachieves its goals and seems almost like the footage in "The Clockwork Orange" that they made Alex watch to cure him of "ultraviolent" behaviour; yet other times it delivers the kind of jolts those accustomed to mainstream cinema could only wish they had. The face of a youth who had lost all sanity and aged many decades over several days, will be etched for an indefinite amount of time into the memory of anyone who has seen this film.

  • Possibly the definitive Russian front film
    by JAM-31 on 11 December 2001

    107 out of 121 people found the following review useful:

    "Come and See" is bizarre, disturbing, and haunting. It is more moving and enlightening than all of the other (mostly disappointing) films I have seen depicting the Russian front in World War II. Strangely enough, the Red Army is entirely absent from the movie.

    As a Russian film, it begins less conventionally than most films produced in the west. It starts off very surreal, and it is difficult at some points to understand what is going on or what certain characters are doing. This gives the theme a foreign and realistic feel. We follow the life of a peasant boy in Byleorussia in 1943, as he joins the partisans. Certain events involving his family and his introduction to the partisans (especially one involving a young girl) make his fight more personal. Strange interactions between characters and Director Elem Klimov's follow tracking shots dominate the film, and give it a unique method of storytelling. Then the nightmare begins.

    The destruction of a Russian village is the horrific centerpiece of the story. It is brutally realistic, with more tracking shots that hold for long periods of time without cutting. We see the German Wehrmacht burn a barn loaded with civilians to the ground as these soldiers clap, smile, and embrace each other. The chaotic action involves many scenes that are sporadic (flames burning out of control, a German soldier accidently shoved into the barn house with the victims) and possibly improvised, which lend a great authenticity to the material. The images are unforgettable, and will stay with you long after you've seen the film. Klimov has succeeded in putting the viewer in the village. Surprisingly, despite coming out of the Soviet Union in 1985, "Come and See" never felt to me like propaganda. There was no communist rhetoric, and the heroes were all partisans, many of which were flawed. The Germans aren't caricatures at the same time they commit acts of evil, and view their actions in a banal way. When one of them defends the atrocities of his platoon, he states, "inferior races spread the microbes of communism." The character delivers this line not with fierce anger, but with nonchalance, as if it were common knowledge, not something that he needs to explain to anyone.

    Some reviews have criticized the "afterthought," a rewind of the Nazi rise to power and invasion of Europe, as unnecessary. It may be, but it is still powerful. Other "flaws" people find with the movie are all characteristics of the director's style, therefore I don't find them flaws. "Come and See" is a great, very different, and very moving film. Grade: "A-"

  • Jaw-droppingly powerful and truly disturbing Russian war drama.
    by HumanoidOfFlesh on 6 July 2006

    96 out of 105 people found the following review useful:

    "Come and See" has to be one of the most powerful war movies ever made.It left me emotionally drained.The film tells the story of 12-year-old Florya(Alexi Kravchenko),whose desire is to join his countrymen in the battle against the fascists.His enthusiasm is written all over his face:in the opening scenes,which show Florya's recruitment by partisan soldiers,he wears the blissed-out smile of a hopeful child.After a bombardment,which leaves him temporarily deaf,he is left behind and stumbles across Glasha(Olga Mironova),who has also been abandoned.Together they return to his village, the atrocities witnessed there anticipating horrors to come."Come and See" is a deeply unsettling film.It's hallucinatory,hellish,traumatizing and uncompromising.There's an aura of profound sadness here,as Florya ages dramatically over the course of the story's events.The film's most disturbing sequence revolves around the raising of one village and the slaughter of most of its inhabitants.The acting is excellent,the cinematography is stunning and the use of Mozart on the soundtrack is particularly effective.10 out of 10.A must-see!

  • I saw a film today , oh boy...
    by paulmartin177 on 12 May 2006

    96 out of 108 people found the following review useful:

    I have a bad habit of reading too many reviews and comments about a film before I've seen it, mainly to get an idea about whether it's going to be worth a couple of hours of my time watching it. As a result, I am often slightly disappointed with much of what I see, as all the hype that I've read about a film kind of blows my expectations out of all proportion. I had a feeling this would be the case with Elem Klimov's 'Come and See', a film I'd read a lot about, particularly here on the IMDb. (Imagine my "excitement" when, having tried to see the film for nearly a year, I discovered it was to be released on DVD a week or two ago from today!) Well, I finally watched the film yesterday and... well, nothing could have prepared me for the sheer intensity and unflinching visceral horror of the atrocities that 'Come and See' invites us to... come and see. (Has anyone commented before on what a clever title that actually is...?) This is one of those films, like, say, 'Requiem For A Dream' or 'The Magdalene Sisters' (both of which, though great films, are simply not in the same league as Klimov's film), that one does not (obviously) so much enjoy as submit oneself to. By the end of such films we are left numbed and shell-shocked, wondering what we are supposed to do with the intense emotions that have been evoked within us. Yes, I felt like the ground had been pulled from beneath me; yes, what I saw in that film made my blood boil, my head hurt and my heart pound; and, yes, it showed me things I'd seen before but to a degree of intensity and detail that I had not experienced before. The point though, I guess, is that the role of cinema (and art in general) is not to offer answers or tell us what to think but to simply show us particular events and characters and allow us to come to our own decisions about what those things 'mean'. I'm rambling now, but I'll simply end by saying that 'Come and See' is, with its outstanding technical and artistic credentials aside, a film whose very title alone demands that it be seen. It is the work of a visionary, a cry of despair from the depths of hell, and an important reminder of humanity's capacity for inhumanity Go and see...

  • Death, destruction and despair
    by LSigno on 25 June 2001

    96 out of 109 people found the following review useful:

    There's not much one can say about this movie, besides "Be warned, it's going to hurt you - a lot". The story is simple: Byelorussia in 1943 and it's Hell on the Earth. The Nazis are fighting a no-quarter-given-or-asked war against huge Soviet partisan units, and the population is caught in between (historically the German security forces destroyed hundred of Byelorussian villages murdering most of the population in the effort to "clear" the rear of Third Panzer Army). Those who haven't been deported or killed by the Nazis are trying to join the partisans. One of them is Florya, a young boy - and in his quest to "join the fight" he get much more he had bargained for. It's a movie about an apocalyptic world (the title is taken from the Book of Revelation, a most of the movie looks like it has been filmed on another planet), but unfortunately it was all-real. The emotional centre of the movie is a lengthy sequence involving the destruction of a village, with all the sickening (but not exploitative) details shown with cold determination. There's no catharsis (this is not Schindler's List!), no hope, no redemption - even the eventual revenge against the village's destroyers become just a sad and murderous business. "Come And See" is a difficult, violent and surprisingly poetic movie, compared to which even classics like "Saving Private Ryan" (Spielberg payed a homage to this movie on SPR's beginning) or "The Thin Red Line" seems just artificial. This is the real thing!

  • Awesome , powerful and brutal.
    by Rob Halpin on 20 February 2001

    117 out of 151 people found the following review useful:

    Come and See , well if you hate violence and brutality then you certainly wont want to see this. This Picture set in 1943 occupied Byelorussia is most probably the most true to life war movie ever, only Saving Private Ryan and Schindlers List can come close. What is amazing in this picture , is how the director uses a child's perspective and view in circumstances that you can only describe as evil. The director pulls no punches in how bad times actually were for peasents and partisans alike as German and collaborators show the viewer how low and depraved a fascist military machine actually is.

    I dont want to go into the plot , as this film is a MUST for anyone who considers themselves a film buff. Disturbing and terrifying scenes do not in anyway spoil the flow of the film , but when viewing this film , please desist from seeing this movie in the early evening , as you wont sleep.

    The acting accolades of course goes to the main characters , but I wish to give a special mention for the Russian Partisan Commander , who was just simply , superb. Everything about him was what you'd expect a Red Army Officer to be. The looks , the attitude and the steely determination is simply a credit to the actor. The best scene involving the Red Army Commander was when they had captured an Einsatgruppen Unit , and the SS soldier , who knew they were facing death was allowed to speak , after there own Commanding Officer was pleading pitifully for his own life. The SS soldier tells his captors that they are sub-human and that there peasent belief in Marxism was grounds enough that they should be eradicated. The Red Army Commander then in just a few words tells his men , that they are not just fighting for Socialism , but also the right to exist.What happens after...well you'll have to see.

    Come and See is nothing short of disturbing, awesome, powerful and brutal. This is the best film I have ever seen regarding films portraying the Eastern Front 1941-1945 war. This film should be engraved in gold as the standard for any budding war film director. Only Saving Private Ryan and Schindlers List can be put in the same League table.

  • And I heard one of the four living creatures saying, as with a voice of thunder...
    by MacAindrais on 25 September 2006

    76 out of 88 people found the following review useful:

    Come and See (1985)****

    I first saw this movie a couple of years ago. I didn't really know what to think of it at first. The soundtrack on the DVD is a little messy and the acting was a bit strange. I knew it had affected me though in a way that not many other movies had. As time went by I began to realize just how much of an impact the movie had on me. It really, really stuck with me. One night, while writing a review of Errol Morris's latest documentary "Fog of War", I found myself thinking more and more about Come and See, and decided that I had to watch it again immediately. I ran out after midnight and rented it, and watched it 3 times or so over the next week. I started to see why the film had been haunting me and sticking around my thoughts. The reason was that this movie is simply a masterpiece.

    Elem Klimov directs the film, starring Aleksei Kravchenko as Florya, a young boy who desires to fight with the Partisan's army against the invading Nazi army. He digs until he finds a rifle, then the next day he is off to a camp in the middle of the woods. The scene is chaotic it seems and unorganized. The fighters try to take a photo that takes about 5 minutes to accomplish because everyone keeps messing up their positions. Florya spots Glasha (Olga Mironova), a young girl, who has the younger fighters swooning over her, and who also seems to have some sort of relationship with the leader of the camp. What that relationship is exactly we never find out. Florya gets left behind on the attack because he is perhaps too young, and besides another older fighter needs some new boots, and swaps with the new kid. .

    The anxious Florya is upset by this decision and he takes to the woods for some solitude, he cries and then discovers that near by Glasha is also crying at being left at the camp, more so for being left alone than behind. The two begin to bond and end up in an open field when German planes attack and begin to bomb the encampment. The scenes that follow next teeter on the brink of madness on film. Come and See is likely one of the most maddening films ever made for that matter. The key is the soundtrack. Florya is struck deaf for a few moments by the bombs. Sounds are muffled, but not like anything you've ever seen in a Hollywood film. The soundtrack is a mix of strange ringing and sounds and music, adding to the atmosphere of chaos that the two youngsters have now been thrown into. Much of the film has this style of soundtrack, which makes the Florya's descent into madness much more poignant.

    The film movies forward from here back to Florya's village which has now been deserted. The two head to an island on the other side of a bog where Florya believes the town is hiding along with his mother and sisters. The scene where they climb through the mud is another example of Florya losing his mind. The soundtrack again becomes ambient and menacing in its strange blends of sounds. They eventually find some villagers and Florya now even more loses his sanity, along with some of his hair, which is given to recreate a statue of Hitler. This will be the last time we see Glasha in the movie, as Florya goes with a party to collect food for the starving people.

    The most famous scene, and the one that will likely never leave you, is of a village being ransacked by Nazi soldiers. The scene is chaotic and culminates in a barn stuffed with the townspeople being burned and shot apart. Another one of the most famous shots from the movie is of Florya shooting a photo of Hitler, each bullet making time reverse. The photo goes back in time until it is a picture of Hitler as a baby on his mothers lap. He is an innocent infant, and Florya cannot bring himself to fire another shot. These shots are incredibly powerful and they stick in your mind.

    Obviously, Come and See was filmed with influences of Soviet Propaganda in it, but it hardly matters because it is so well made and so maddening you can't help but be totally absorbed by the experience. The movie has a hypnotic quality about it, and without being horrifying because it's a jump out of your seat surprise bloodbath, it is horrifying in its representation of the cruelty people are capable of in war.

    I can't remember ever seeing another film that expressed the descent into madness any better and being so involving as Come and See. By the end of the film, you feel like you've just experienced what it must be like to lose your mind. The film never goes into the desensitizing of violence in war. Instead it focuses on the violence which causes those who witness to become desensitized from the madness of its cruelty.

    Elem Klimov created this film out of his actors and their emotions, and essentially used the viewer as another character. This movie draws you in and makes you experience exactly what the characters must. There are few other films that do that to you, especially to the extent that this one does it. And for that, Come and See is not only a masterpiece, it's really one of the best films you'll ever see. Find it, but don't just watch it. Allow it to take you in; even if that means you have to see it a couple times. Let it take you in, and you're in for an experience rarely found in cinema anymore

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