Come and See (originally titled “There is a Hitler in All of Us” but censored by the Russian film commission) is the most brilliant anti-war film ever made. Today is Remembrance Day in some parts of the world and as such it is a time to remember the lives lost during past wars. It is not a time to valourize and glorify war, as some (notably military buffs and the Canadian government) seek to do. And with such an enduring deficit in anti-war film these days (if anyone out there thinks Armadillo is an anti-war film they are sadly mistaken), what better time to remind ourselves of the Russian 1985 classic by Elem Klimov, Come and See.
The film is a stark and horrific look at the the 1943 Nazi occupation of the Belarussian SSR. Aleksei Kravchenko and Olga Mironova star as characters who wear the scars of war on their bodies as they deteriorate over the 142 minutes of screen time. The screenplay is by Ales Adamovich and Elem Klimov. The film was widely seen in Russia when it was released but has not had the audience it deserves outside of that country. Realistic, terrifying and brutal – Come and See convincingly portrays the degradation of war, the loss of innocence of its victims, and the social and psychological destruction of everything violence touches. It is a beautifully-constructed masterpiece that avoids an aestheticization of war while artfully rendering unthinkable acts of inhumanity and inspiring acts of humanity. It will likely stay with you the rest of your life. View the film here or purchase a DVD here.