Come and See (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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A full third of the Nazis’ innocent victims were killed in mass executions on the Eastern Front—both by specially assigned SS troops and the regular Wehrmacht (though the myth of a “clean Wehrmacht” lives on to this day). Nearly blocked from being made by Soviet censors, who took seven years to approve it's script, Come and See is perhaps the most visceral, impossible-to-forget antiwar film ever made. Grain is very fine but is still visible and rendered cleanly, and I didn’t note any artifacts on screen. As wide-eyed witness to a portion of this monstrous deed, Flyora’s face often fills the film’s narrow 4:3 frame—scorched, bloodied, and sooty, trembling with horror at the inhumanity he’s seen.
There is a great layer of film grain that keeps the image filmic and never fluctuates in any lighting scenario. Criterion's Blu-ray release of Come and See is sourced from an outstanding 2K master that makes revisiting the film quite an experience. Criterion Booklet - A fully illustrated booklet with tech specs, cast, and crew info, along with essays by Mark le Fanu and Valzhyna Mort, covering the movie. We experience the German invasion of Belarus through Flyora (Aleksey Kravchenko), a teenager who joins the local partisan militia after discovering a rifle buried in the sand.Over his single mother's protests, he joins the partisans, but they leave him behind in their camp when they set off to fight the Germans.
While fleeing back into the woods with Flyora, Glasha momentarily glimpses a heap of bodies, Flyora’s family and neighbors, piled on the edge of the village where tendrils of smoke still waft from their chimneys. It’s a cinematic simulacrum of the overwhelming, discombobulating sensory experience of war that would have an influence on virtually every war movie made after it. The three films are Handful of Sand (10-minutes), Mute Scream (11-minutes), and Woman from the Killed Village (28-minutes), and all were filmed around 1975 according to the notes here (looking them up online suggests different years for each).Deakins lists Come and See as one of his favourite films and he explains why he is so awe-struck by the film’s visuals and framing and how it has inspired him, really gushing over it and its use of the Academy ratio and the Steadicam in a few shots. Glascha (Olga Mironova), a lovely young girl, befriends him, but the two are caught in the midst of an air raid which leaves Florya nearly deaf. Come and See bears comparison to Andrei Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood, which likewise narrates a young boy’s conscription into the irregular Russian resistance to German invasion. Wider shots of the trees in the forest and military uniforms all show the necessary textures in all lighting conditions. The film, whose original title was Kill Hitler, takes as its heart-shattering climax a hallucinatory montage of documentary footage that imagines a world without the Nazi leader.