Monday, December 23, 2013

Come And See

Come And See (Idi i smotri, Kill Hitler) Directed by Elem Klimov. Starring Aleksey Kravchenko (1985).
   Immediately, I knew what to expect from reading different reviews online about this film, it's devastating, horrific and gets under you're skin long after you've viewed it. We here at TOG like to goof on shit all time, so as deranged as it may seem, there are fleeting moments of humor in this misery soaked Soviet perspective on the Holocaust. 
   Any movie strange enough to open with an angry kid talking in a goofy voice, not unlike Herve Villachaiz/ Froggy from the Little Rascals is off to a good start, this child is one of two young boys playing war games in the dirt amidst real bombs in Nazi occupied Russia in 1943. The film is supposed to make Schindler's List look restrained, that's a bold statement, but I didn't let it hinder my appreciation for the stark realism. I don't believe you should bother to make a Holocaust film, if you're not going to go for the throat, because if it's too soft, it comes off even more offensive and Come and See delivers in the abysmally gloomy department!
   This is a rare film that intrigued me and I hoped that it would be as captivating as I found The Tin Drum, it's completely different though. It's not even on the radar of highly regarded film snob best of lists (at least not by my inclination),why have I just become aware of it? Most of the reviews claim how harrowing and nightmarish this film is and it most certainly is. I almost wish I was totally unaware about what's to come, because I'd rather be shocked by it than desensitized. Make no mistake, this film is still a rough experience! 
a brief moment of rest on a dead cow

   Florian Gaishun (the brilliant young actor Aleksey Kravchenko) is unknowingly drafted,(or hurled onto a cart with an eye wound from a turkey peck), at first he seems excited to carry a gun, this is because there's no one to fight yet.
   The boy is ecstatic to help out and march into the death realms of the Nazi war machine, joining the Soviet resistance.
  The army mentions how Hitler's weapon is fear, which reminded me of my humanities teacher, someone I deeply respect, who said; "The Nazi's believed in Hell and used it as a model to bring it to Earth, had they not been influenced by The Catholic Church, they wouldn't have this to draw from". The title "Come And See" is from a Bible Passage in Revelations about the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse.  
   Florian leaves the camps and finds a crazy girl named Glasha, (Olga Mironova, who stopped acting after this). She is found weeping in the forest, his crying causes her to laugh and vice versa. Their awkward, abrasive first encounter is upended by bombs dropping from planes.

The bombers constantly circle through-out the film 

   He brings his new girlfriend back to his family, little does Flora know that they were murdered (their rotting bodies are seen lined up against the back of the cabin). The couple sit in the empty cottage and eat rancid soup as flies buzz around their ears. 
   Suddenly Florian runs screaming into the wilderness and they trudge through a thick like molasses mud pit in agony, the boy keeps claiming that his family is there in the bottom of the swamp. This is an irrational response to try and unplug his brain from the harsh reality surrounding him. The freezing mud looks authentic and their anguish seems genuine. 
   Those displaced from the village fashion a grisly carcass like sculpture that resembles Hitler and they take out their rage out on it. 

Achtung, my freakin ears!
   Flora quickly shuts down and becomes introverted, a relative decides to chastise him as his final death rattle and makes matters worse. This causes him to blame himself for his families death and the man with cooked blistered skin, croaks out a few harsh words, confirming his fears.
   The death planes resonate with an eerily pleasant sound and seem to constantly be in flight.    
   Every single review spoke about the bleakness and humorlessness, I disagree, there's some moments of levity among the funeral procession grimness (it's very brief, but it's there), it's usually crushed out, right after a shred of happiness occurs. Flora giggles as a runaway cow moves along a barren field and then dies from a hail of bullets (which apparently were real)! Nothing can sustain the scorched wasteland and as he callously plunges a knife into the cattle carcass, his sanity starts to chip away.  
   According to IMDB, they hypnotized the boy so he wouldn't become traumatized by the "real" horrors, but of course it didn't work! Come on Klimov, don't rob the kid of stark realism, were the kids in Men Behind The Sun spared of any real torment, definitely not, what would Eisenstein think?
   The Nazis shove all the helpless women and children into a an overcrowd barn, watch the innocent squirm then firebomb it. They cackle like immature babies as they watch them burn to death.    
   Florian's face starts to crack into a leathery, wrinkled one, out of terror as children are dragged around by their hair and murdered, his disturbing reaction is haunting and he looks petrified. His trance-like appearance was supposedly achieved by hypnotism (but Kravchenko claims it never worked, which is testament to his superior acting skills).

I hope they don't market my face as a gimmicky mask

He looks toward the sky and feels a sense of calmness from the death plane buzzing, which eclipse the wretched sound of screams. The Nazis show their weakness by posing pictures with a gun to a frightened boy's head as their trophy of conquest. 
Nazi's are like Paris Hilton with their use of pet accessories
    I can only describe this film as "Ratcatcher goes to the Belarus", they both have similar protagonists living in filth, enduring miserable conditions and meeting a grisly finally. They are both devastating films with children as the victims to their caustic environment. James, the boy in Ratcatcher had a better existence, compared to Florian, who walks around in a constant state of fear, his soul and humanity quickly evaporating (he'd be more at peace dead).
   They would make a nice double feature together, I could see Howard Scott and the giggly outside right now, handing out Up-Chuck-Cups!

   They could hand out Florian fright masks like in Cut Throats 9, I say bring back the William Castle style hokum to the stodgy arthouse!
   Klimov never directed a film after this one, when asked why, he said that he had accomplished everything in this one film, fair enough! This is a brutal uncompromising, gut punch that doesn't sit well with you later on and why should it, its a very effective anti-war film that deserves high praise. 


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