February 8, 1987 [Come and See]

The boy in Come and See looks into the camera--but he isn't looking at me--oh that he would: I'd be happy to be his object of horror, the thing that makes him look like Munch's The Scream--or worse, one of Otto Dix's wounded war-lunatics, the boy's face wrinkled like something ancient, the mouth jagged and trembling and refusing to speak, the eyes saying it all, round and vibrating with the concussive thumps of artillery too close, splattering him with clods of dirt and partisan blood--with a constant sound, as though some huge machine is refusing to break down, no matter how many blows are delivered to its iron skin.

But I can't do anything for him, back there in Belorusse where the Nazis indulged themselves, all restraint cast off like Adam and Eve returning to Eden--now ruled by Satanic pride and appetite, the wolf-headed parents of Flannery O'Connor's Misfit who sees his world and concludes, "It's nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can by killing somebody or burning down his house or doing some other meanness." The flames consume the packed barn, and the children make a high thin sound as they burn. Nothing to do but look and listen, then fall in line and march into the woods--they catch the Nazis and mow them down, but the boy's face doesn't change--the camera knows this, and leaves him to bring up the rear, hoping at the last minute.


  1. This movie made me feel ill....not physically, mind you....but emotionally and spiritually. It was a truly devastating film.

    Well....on a completely different note....

    I want to personally invite you to participate in my blog's Monster Movie blogathon!

    Here's a link to the information page:


  2. Nathanael, you have passed a cinematic test. I'm suspicious of anyone who merely complains Come and See is simply irritating. You should be proud of your "sickness unto death." Thanks for checking in--and thanks for the blogathon invite; as I've emailed you, the Constant Viewer is in!

  3. It is indeed an utterly wrenching war film, a stark nightmare, and one of the greatest anti-war films of all-time. Klimov was married to Larissa Shepitko, who of course directed another Russian masterpiece THE ASCENT. Sadly, she was killed at a young age in an auto accident.

    Great post, Paul.

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  5. Thanks, Sam. Oh yes, The Ascent. Didn't know the connection. If only the Constant Viewer were Russian!


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