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Come and See
I just watched "Come and See" ("Иди и смотри") by Elim Klimov.

Has anyone seen this movie? Please? I'd like to talk about it...

If you haven't seen this movie (yet) - go watch it. Seriously, this is the most powerful plea for peace i've ever seen or heard, It combines the most horrific atrocities with dreamlike symbolism. This movie is disturbing on a level that i'd recommend to only watch it when in a stable state of mind, and not in the evening.

But, i'd really like to talk about it with someone who has seen this "movie", which is really the wrong word for this piece of art: it is an experience. VISION and SOUND are the most powerful actors of "Come and See", it is perfectly shot, it is all that moving images are capable of, with a perfect "soundtrack" - which is yet again the wrong word for the sound, which mixes industrial with Mozart, wanes when we are deaf and roars when we want to stop listening.

Like a lot of Russian art, this is poetic, lyrical, full of symbolism and yet more real than anything we'd ever like to experience in reality.

This is the best film i've ever seen. It takes Adorno's "Critical Theory" to the screen and brutally pushes us into the play, as another actor, as real as the other actors, as there as ever possible. And the other way around: The movie becomes reality, our reality. This is not a film about explosions. Or blood and gore. Or about coming of age of a protagonist. This is about us in a way that "Guernica" by Picasso is - only it doesn't give us an "out". "Kill Hitler" - the original title isn't meant as an imperative to act outwards, to destroy others, but inwards, to take a look at the abyss within all of us.

While Florya, the 13 years old human main character ages on screen we age with him. We see what he sees, we hear what he hears and we smell and taste what he smells and tastes. I have never had a similar experience watching a movie. This piece is very realistic, and yet surreal at the same time. It makes us forget that we watch a movie, an artificial construct, it destroys the guarding barrier which normally keeps us safe and sound while watching disturbing scenes on TV or cinema while still leaving us with the distinct impression that all we have ever seen are shadows on the wall.

Yet, the shadows are so horrifying, so "real" that to view the source of the shadow would surely break our minds. "Come and See" is quite possibly the most apt title to a (this) movie ever and this work has the power to change us forever. I mean it: I'm not the same person i was yesterday anymore.

Come and See

"Had I included everything I knew and shown the whole truth, even I could not have watched it." (Elim Klimov, born in Stalingrad, 1933)

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Oh yes. It hurts. Since watching it i wander around my home in a daze, and, while i didn't watch the extras (no DVD) - i read any and all interviews and reviews i could find, to know what it was like to make this film, and - as you say - to know what became of the actor.

And, it is the whole experience of it - the sounds, oh the sounds. There is so much in the little scenes, the nest of the crane he tramples on (and the cranes are the image of the souls of the dead soldiers in so many of the soviet war literature, movies and songs...).

I always thought that i had seen enough bloodshed and violence in real life - but then i could always turn my back on it, always return to the relative safety of petty bourgeois German society.

But with this, i felt a bit like Alex from "A Clockwork Orange" being forced to go through his conditioning via drugs and films.

It has been a long time since i cried while watching a movie. But this has really left me torn and tattered.

Dos Lid geschribn is mit Blut un nit mit Bley,
S´is nit keyn Lidl vun a Voygl af der Fray,
Dos hot a Volk zvischn falndike Wend
Dos Lid gesungen mit Naganes* in di Hend!

*standard edition soviet infantry rifle

(This song was written with our blood, and not with lead;
It's not a song that summer birds sing overhead;
It was a people, amidst crumbling walls,
That sang this song with pistols to our calls.

Oh yes. I watched this as a double bill with Ballad of a Soldier - both are Soviet movies about WWII that don't just toe the party line but look at the human cost instead, and yet they couldn't be more different. One (Ballad) hope- and wistful, and the other (Come And See) a descent into hell that never lets up.

BTW, have you ever read Isaak Babel? If not, look up a short story collection called Red Cavalry, which he wrote about his experience during the Soviet-Polish war of 1920 and reads a lot like Come And See, if not quite as bleak. Babel was a Jewish bolshevik intellectual, which as it turned out, wasn't an entirely unconflicted role in the 1920s ("Was it the revolutionaries or the counterrevolutionaries who burned this synagogue?"). Or indeed later; he was executed in one of Stalin's labour camps.

(Also, I meant to link this queer feminist kraut version of "The Partisan" since I'm a bit drunk and un-watching the Eurovision with as much noise as I can.)

No, i haven't read Babel (but of course i immediately ran and looked him up and read stuff and... well, at least i don't have to listen to the Eurovision. :D ).

That seems to be something worth reading, i will look for it on Tuesday. Also thanks for the song! Yes, that's good stuff!

Interestingly, "Ballad of the Soldier" is next on my list of "what to watch". I just don't know if i can do this right now. I feel as if i need another lifetime without war movies first...

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