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Author Topic: Come and See (Idi i smotri)  (Read 13265 times)
PowerRR
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« on: January 28, 2007, 08:37:48 PM »

Yes, this is an exact repost from IGN...

Could someone please explain to me what makes this movie so amazing? I attempted to watch it a couple months ago, and I could seriously not make it past 40 minutes.

The beggining of the film automatically starts off awkward. Some old guy starts yelling, then kids are randomly digging, searching for a gun. A kid finds a gun, and he decides to go to war. Soldiers come to pick up the kid, and his mom starts yelling. The kid gets carried away in a casket of some sort, and all of a sudden he's fighting in the war.

After thirty more minutes of dealing with absolutely horribly composed shots, horrendously bad acting, and a plot that wasn't really going anywhere, I turned it off.

The sad part is, the movie sounded very interesting - just my cup of tea. I don't know if the director was trying to make "art" or not, but calling this piece of **** "art" as quite a few people do is just plain dumb.

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The Firecracker
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« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2007, 08:42:25 PM »

]

The beggining of the film automatically starts off awkward. Some old guy starts yelling, then kids are randomly digging, searching for a gun. A kid finds a gun, and he decides to go to war. Soldiers come to pick up the kid, and his mom starts yelling. The kid gets carried away in a casket of some sort, and all of a sudden he's fighting in the war.



sounds like my cup of tea.

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PowerRR
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« Reply #2 on: January 28, 2007, 08:43:49 PM »

Believe me, I made it sound better than it really was.

Then again, it seems as if I'm alone on my disliking of this movie.

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Juan Miranda
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« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2007, 06:24:41 PM »

Wots "IGN" when it's at 'ome then?

As this is one of my fave films of all time, I've been meaning to do a write up on it for a while. It's a bit of an obscurity, a Glasnost era, Soviet WWII epic, set in Belarus, and I think more folk would enjoy it if they had it recommended to them.

I'll try and post a comprehensive review in it's defence at the weekend if I get time, as rrpower doesn't seem to have understood a single frame of it. The film's director Elim Klimov narrowly lived through the seige of Stalingrad as a child, and actually knew something about war at first hand. It's certainly a film which refuses to pamper it's audience with platitudes (though it's last few moments have it's problems, as I hope to explore), but it's the most harrowing fiction film I have ever seen, and it's final forty or so minutes are a relentless depiction of slaughter and insanity bearable only due to the breathtaking way Klimov immerses the viewer in sheer, almost dialogue-free cinema.

« Last Edit: January 29, 2007, 06:31:11 PM by Juan Miranda » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2007, 06:41:40 PM »

Great, I'd love to see a detailed opinion from one who loves the film.

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Juan Miranda
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2007, 03:53:29 PM »

Hopefully no spoilers...

Twinning, a main motif in the movie

Set in Byelorussia in WWII, COME AND SEE remains, for me at least, the last word on the war film to date. Written by Ales Adamovich, a Byelorussian who's family were all partisans during the “Great Patriotic War”, and directed by Elem Klimov, who as a child witnessed the siege of Stalingrad, it commands, if nothing else, a feeling of authenticity of tone few other pictures in the late 20th century could claim.

Conceived as KILL HITLER under the cold dead hand of the Brezhnev Soviet regime, the film languished, like so many other Klimov projects for a decade, refused permission by the state to commence shooting. The authorities obviously saw something in it, and in Klimov himself (who's completed films were constantly suppressed) they didn't like. Perhaps more glaringly, it lacked certain qualities of patriotism and a portrayal of a Soviet Hero they expected from a work set in this era.

The crazed Glasha

Instead the film follows entirely the misadventures of a luckless and slightly dim boy called Floyra. In the first 30 minutes of the story, we see him dig up a gun from an abandoned battlefield, a precious object which gains him entry into the local partisan unit, only to find himself being ordered to stay behind by it's gruff commander when it leaves to go on an offensive. In the next 30 minutes he bonds with another child roughly his own age, the seemingly crazed girl Glasha. They survive a German bombing and parachute assault, and go to his home village in search of safety, only to find almost the entire population has been brutally massacred. Finding sanctuary on a swamp surrounded island, he is partly blamed for the Nazi attack (a spotter plane observed him digging up the gun), events which drive him beyond breaking point. After recovering, there is a short sequence when he and three others partisans leave the island in search of food and to plant a booby trap (a mannequin in the shape of Hitler).

Flags...

In the final, and most unforgettable sequence Floyra finds himself trapped in a village singled out for “special treatment”. A vast hoard of motorized SS troops arrives like a (suitably) Biblical Plague to destroy the town and all who live there. As a title card near the end of the film explains, this was the fate of 628 such towns (A quarter of the population of  Byelorussia was wiped out in the war).


The incredible Aleksei Kravchenko

All the weight of the film is carried by Aleksei Kravchenko in the role of Floyra. Just 13 when he was cast, he is in almost every single shot, often in giant close ups. He ages physically on camera from a young boy to a creature with the face of a wizened old man, caused by the devastating events he experiences. He gives what is surely one of the most remarkable performances ever captured by a movie camera. As a filming strategy, Klimov and most of the crew spent 9 shooting months living in primitive conditions like the partisans in the forest, demanding bizarre feats of physical endurance from Kravchenko, such as an almost unbearable to watch trek he and Olga Mironova make through a thick, stinking skin covered swamp, shot mostly in a single, agonizing take. Or a later scene where live tracer ammo was fired just over the head of crew and performers at dusk (no special effects for the Russkies in those days!), killing a cow.

Through the swamp

Although the film mainly sees the events overwhelming Kravchenko, we rarely (until almost the end) actually “see” things through his eyes. Instead Klimov and his cinematographer Aleksei Rodionov shoot the film using a bewildering variety of alienating devices, some of them uniquely Soviet in origin, including using Factory of the Eccentric Actor approaches to character (particularly Olga Mironova's Glasha, who never feels “normal”), or the technique of “Ostranenie”.


This literally means “making strange”, and the closest notion we can get to it in the West is that of Surrealism, but the two shouldn't be confused. Hence characters constantly break the “fourth wall” and will suddenly directly address the camera, animals appear almost like apparitions (as do women in the Nazi column), people appear who seem to promise great significance to the plot only to vanish or be killed and forgotten about. The sound is constantly disorienting, for long periods (particularly the 20 minutes after Floyra is deafened in a bombing attack) not matching the picture. Finally, and perhaps most controversially for the Soviet authorities, there is a subtle obsession with twinning in the film, beginning with Florya's own doomed twin sisters. Both the Nazis and the Communist partisans take Floyra's photograph in ritualized moments of Martial pride, both the Nazis and the Communists have skinny bespectacled political controllers, both have midgets who play significant roles in Floyra's life, both  Floyra and Glasha are twinned towards the climax of the picture and the film's final shot exactly mirrors one earlier in the film, etc.

Smile for the camera

Where the film does let itself down is in it's sheer relentlessness (no space now to go into it's brief moments of traditional Soviet flag-waving). It is an almost uniquely harrowing thing to sit through, and the only other film which approaches it's power is Claude Lanzmann's SHOAH, and that is a documentary. Anyway, I've blabbed enough. I would urge all to all to try and see it, obviously in Russian with subtitles. The English language dub is a joke, with huge segments unintelligible and with significant parts not even translated.

« Last Edit: February 05, 2007, 03:57:36 PM by Juan Miranda » Logged

Tim
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2007, 05:29:22 PM »

  I haven't seen Come and See, I've only read about it, but that picture Juan put up of the Germans holding the gun to the boy's head is a powerful one, even out of context for someone who hasn't seen the movie.  I'll have to look into watching this movie.  Definitely sounds interesting.

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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2007, 09:24:44 PM »

looks good Afro

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« Reply #8 on: February 06, 2007, 05:49:16 PM »

Ugh, I'm going to have to try and watch it again. Your review gave me more interest in the rest of it.

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Juan Miranda
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« Reply #9 on: February 06, 2007, 06:31:07 PM »

Hope you get more out of it on a future viewing, RR. A lot of Soviet cinema can seem baffling on an initial encounter. I know I hated SOLARIS first time I saw it (indeed I couldn't sit through it), but images from it stuck vividly in my head, and several years later I had become so obsessed with Tarkovsky and his films that I ended up living in Moscow and studying at his old film school, VGIK.


The long shadow of Tarkovsky imigary, even on Klimov's picture

When I was there, I requested COME AND SEE one afternoon to show to the class I was in. In true Russkie style, the print was delivered to the screening room minus a reel, however, even lacking this segment (and English subtitles), the film did it's usual devastating work on my fellow students who hadn't experienced it before.

Afterwards when we were discussing it our camera master Aleksander Knyazhinsky (who shot STALKER) suddenly said "You know, I don't think it really happened like that." We were all rather dumb struck by this statement. Although I had read many books about how the Nazi war machine worked by then (pretty much as portrayed in Klimov's picture) , you just didn't argue about WWII with Russians of a certain age, especially if they were Knyazhinsky! Even though his opinion almost sounded like denial. Several years later, after a screening in London I mentioned this comment to a friend of mine who is a psycotherapist. He thought about it for a moment and said "Maybe he meant it was even worse?"


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dave jenkins
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« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2007, 03:39:01 PM »

Juan, since you've mentioned Tarkovsky (how could you not? Wink), how does Come and See stack up against Ivan's Childhood?

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« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2007, 06:18:05 PM »

how does Come and See stack up against Ivan's Childhood?

An intreuging question, but it's not really fair putting these two films into the same ring. Tarkovsky made IVAN'S CHILDHOOD with his then best buddy (cinematographer) Vadim Yusov just after both men graduated from VGIK in their (very) late 20's. Although it remains remarkably mature due to the fact that almost all of Tarkovsky's life long obsessions are in there (the mother, fire with water, dreams, hair fetishism, paintings etc (there are ten "icons" which Tarkovsky returns to in every film including and following SOLARIS)), it never feels as complex or as unusual as many other Soviet war films. Such as Askoldov's still avant-guard and challenging COMMISAR (1967), or Alexie German's MY FRIEND IVAN LAPSHIN (1985). Tellingy too, Tarkovsky's film didn't fall foul of the Soviet censor in the same way as these latter pictures (or indeed Klimov with almost all of his).

Klimov, when he made COME AND SEE was in his fifties, had spent decades fighting the Soviet authorites just enough to be a dissident yet remain at large and in employment, and was arguably at the hight of his powers, in command of his own army of technicians using equipment and a budget Tarkovsky could only have dreamed of when making IVAN'S CHILDHOOD. Where the two film's really do part company is that, for me at any rate, IVAN'S CHILDHOOD feels like much of it could have been just as easily made in Hollywood or in France or the UK in the 1960's. Yes, Tarkovsky became the greater film maker with his later projects, but COME AND SEE could only have come from that place which no longer exists, the Soviet Union.

ETA: Where Klmov clearly does use Tarkovsky imigary in COME AND SEE is in his utilisation of Renaissance symobolism (the scraggy crane bird especially) and the medieval appearence of the island swamp dwellers, who look as though they have stepped from ANDRIE RUBLOV (see too Vince Ward's THE NAVIGATOR).

« Last Edit: February 07, 2007, 06:50:14 PM by Juan Miranda » Logged

dave jenkins
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« Reply #12 on: February 08, 2007, 09:14:39 AM »

(the mother, fire with water, dreams, hair fetishism, paintings etc (there are ten "icons" which Tarkovsky returns to in every film including and following SOLARIS)))
Horses?

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« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2007, 07:31:57 PM »

Horses?

You'd think that, wouldn't you? However, they are absent in key movies (MIRROR especially being THE key picture). The 10 "icons" (as I named them) which I outlined in my 1991 thesis, POSTHUMOUS LIGHT were:

Water

Fire (usually in conjuction with water)

Paintings

Hair (often with shawls)

Birds

Dreams

The Mother (His own mother even appears in MIRROR, and NOSTALGIA is dedicated to her memory).

Mirrors

Dogs (more than horses, the prevailing mammal Tarkosvky uses in every film (IVAN'S CHILDHOOD excepted)

The holy fool (the dominant character in Tarkovsky's work, often doubled like a mirror)

« Last Edit: February 09, 2007, 07:35:23 PM by Juan Miranda » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2007, 09:14:45 AM »


The holy fool (the dominant character in Tarkovsky's work, often doubled like a mirror)

Now, that's an interesting observation. Any comments on T's use of this motif viz a viz Russian literature?

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