Come and See
A few months ago, I went through a few days of watching war movies. It wasn't intentional as such, but the cards just happened to fall that way. One of those films was the 1985 Russian WWII film Come and See (Idi i Smotri).
I'd seen a clip of this movie in a documentary about war films some months earlier, and it was praised for its reality, so I was looking forward to it.
It started slowly, with two boys digging in the sand for guns that were seemingly left behind after previous battles, then playing war games. Later, soldiers arrive at a small village and take one of the boy aways to the army, leaving behind his mother and siblings. The camera angles and close-ups and facial expressions were all disconcerting, seemingly weird for the sake of weird, and frankly it was not doing much for me.
After about half an hour of this, my better half decided she'd had enough and went to bed. I decided to stick with it -- for another half an hour at least.
And boy, am I glad I did. Maybe the weirdness subsided; maybe I merely acclimatized to it. Certainly as it progressed I felt there were certain Lynchian qualities.
There were many disturbing scenes, too, as one might expect in a gritty war movie. Not least among these is a burning-barn sequence. But several others are not much fun either.
The lead actor has pain and confusion etched on his face for almost the duration of the picture. And it seems clear at some point the confusion gives way to insanity.
Probably not for everyone, Come and See is a slow burn of a movie, and it runs a good 140-odd minutes. The camera is often very much in the thick of the action, adding to the feeling of horrifying claustrophobia. Some have spoken about its technical achievements, but I noticed that less than I felt a degree of technical imagination on the part of director Elem Klimov and his crew. It felt like they really wanted to get the film made, even if it might be a little rough around the edges here and there.
On the whole, I like to try to review movies reasonably soon after seeing them, since it is so fresh in my mind that I can go into more detail. But sometimes, a film needs to burn in your heart for a while, I think. Every once in a while since seeing it, I think back to it and want to see it again. One viewing is almost certainly not enough.
I give Come and See 82 points out of 100. Those who are interested, a decent article on the film and DVD can be found here.