The Monstrosity of War in “Come and See”

Few films capture the monstrosity of war like Elem Klimov’s prolific masterpiece, “Come and See”. It is a war film that doesn’t interest itself in showcasing combat. It features no adrenaline-charged battle scenes or action sequences. Instead, Klimov exposes some of the most disturbing and traumatizing human behavior ever recorded in history, the systematic persecution and murder of armless human beings by the Nazi regime in Belarus.⠀ ⠀

During the Nazi occupation of Byelorussia, known today as Belarus, women, children, and the elderly were exterminated in the most horrific way possible. The film is told from the perspective of a young boy who leaves his village behind to join the Soviet resistance movement. When he returns and comes face to face with German soldiers, the film takes a hellish turn. What makes this film so impossible to forget is that it is extremely artistic in its approach. Unlike most Western films about the holocaust, “Come and See” doesn’t follow a traditional narrative. For the most part, the film uses nightmarish surrealism to make an impression, but somewhere towards the end, Klimov bombards us with glimpses of reality. At that precise moment, the nightmare becomes all too real.⠀ ⠀

There is nothing entertaining or pleasant about this type of cinema. It exists as a warning, to remind us of our dark past and hopefully prevent it from ever happening again. Klimov’s film is constantly praised as one of the most unforgettable motion pictures ever made. And it’s true, there are moments in “Come and See” that will be stuck in your mind for as long as you can remember. I do not believe any human being can watch this alarming film and ever be the same. No words can prepare you for this experience. No matter what I write, the effect it will have on you remains the same; “Come and See” will shake you to the core.

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