Some of the films I’ve taken a look at could be considered shocking or disturbing.But when all is said and done, they’re works of fiction.As visually striking as they may be, subconsciously you know the stories you’re watching aren’t true.There most likely won’t be a massive horde of zombies prowling at your local shopping mall, There isn’t a secret society torturing young women to gain knowledge of what lies past this lifetime, And if you attend a ballet academy in Germany, It’s probably not run by a coven of witches.This film however, Elem Klimov’s 1985 Psychological horror/war film “Come And See”, is different.The events that take place actually happened.In my honest opinion it remains the most disturbing film ever made.
The film was made in 1985 to commemorate the 40th anniversary of The Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany.Set in Belarus in 1943 during the Nazi occupation, The film is cantered around a young boy named Flyora played by Russian actor Aleksei Kravchenko , Who is enlisted by a group of partisans who are fighting the Germans.Unlike the propaganda films commissioned by Stalin at the wars end in 1945, Klimov chose not to show a highly glamorized fight on the battlefield, but the brutal and real fight of the partisan resistance.He also depicted a part of the Holocaust you most likely weren’t taught in high school.The operations of the mobilized killing squads known as the Einsatzkommando. The actions in the film are based on eyewitness testimony of what took place during the war, and are based on the infamous “Derlwanger” brigade.A penal battalion made up of convicted criminals who specialized in anti-partisan warfare.The company’s commander Oskar Derlwanger was himself a convicted pedophile and psychopath.The brigade was known for burning people alive, as well as bayonetting several children during the 1944 Warsaw ghetto uprising.The actions depicted on film are so shockingly real in their presentation, That I would go so far as to say this is a film that should be shown in history courses.
During production, some of the scenes were so intense, it caused Kravchenko’s hair (Who was only 16 at the time of filming)to prematurely turn grey.Which brings me back to why I consider this to be the most disturbing film ever made.Not only for it’s realistic depictions, And the fact they’re based on what actually happened,But the knowledge that these actions wren’t committed by some supernatural force or some horde of reanimated zombies, but actual human beings who had families and were at point contributing members of society, It makes it all the more disturbing.
Klimov’s use of a lot of steady cam cinematography, And his artistic use of classical music, such as Mozart’s funeral mass for the films conclusion help build a dark atmosphere.There is no happy and uplifting resolution.There is no happy ending.From start to finish It’s a film that is bleak,grim and even at some points hard to sit through to it’s completion.
In conclusion, I strongly believe everyone needs to watch this film at least once in their lifetime.It’s a testimony of the darker side of human nature, and one of the darkest and depraved time periods of history.