Sunday Cult Film Corner: “Come and See (1985)”

13 Mar

What a lovely Sunday afternoon we´re having. We´re right now looking after Sigga´s niece while the parents are away in Copenhagen. Yes that´s right, someone has been foolish enough to entrust me with the fruit of their loins. So far she is still alive, although a little traumatized. But i think she´ll be okay after a few years. But at least i now know that kids don´t necessarily like have the shit scared out of them. I do hope that bruise on her forehead clears up by Tuesday though.

So in my few moments of rest, i sat here thinking “You know what sucks with the world. Channel 4, that´s what!”. I mean, if the people who first commissioned the channel back in the early 80´s were able to realise just how shallow, bland and outright insulting the programming has now become, i don´t think they would have bothered. Why do i think this is the case? Three words – Sunday world Cinema. Nowadays if you were to watch channel 4 late at night all you would get would be depressing re-runs of Come Dine With Me or (when it was still running) live Big Brother feeds which just showed a group of people sleeping and farting.

But it wasn´t always like this. Throughout the 80´s/Early 90´s in the wee hours of Sunday night/monday morning, channel 4 would show some of the cream of cinema from around the world. And as a boy on the cusp of teenhood and puberty, i often stayed up late watching these films with the sound turned down. If i´m being honest i mostly watched these films mostly in the hope of seeing from naked continental flesh and sex scenes. And if the film was French, Spanish or Japanese, then the chances would often by high. But once in a while a film would come along that would indelibly sear its visuals onto my retinas, and scrawl its message onto my soul with a rusty razor blade. And for me that first film was the Russian war movie COME AND SEE.

Directed in 1985 by Elem Klimov, Come and See tells the story of the atrocities that occurred in Belarussian Russian by the Germans in World war II. The main protagonist of the story is Florian, a boy who finds a rifle and decides that he is going to join the partisans in their fight against the Germans. On the way he befriends a girl, Glasha. Together they try to survive the horrors of war as German Einsatzgruppen units round-up locals villagers and start killing them in barbaric massacres.

Come and See is not a film that can be watched lightly. At two and a half hours long, it´s a tough and at times gruelling experience. There is not really a coherent plot as such, more a sequence of events and visuals that are at times almost hallucinatory and spellbinding in their nature. Also, there are  scenes that make Schindler’s List seem more like Escape To Victory in their devastation and cruelty (the church scene  in particular is something you don´t forget in a hurry). Even the making of the film was arduous. It took 8 years before the state gave approval for it to be made, production took 8 months during which the young actors were pushed to near breaking point. Because of the realism of the scenes they underwent, they were given hypnosis to help treat them for the stress. Indeed looking at the change in Florian´s face from innocent youth to scarred and brutalised young man look all too real.

When i watched this for the first time as a 13-year-old, it had an indelible effect on me. Especially as i ended up staying awake all night and looked like a zombie the following day at school, and it meant that i never got any proper sleep for the rest of the week thinking about what kind of film i saw. And when you watch this you´ll feel like you´ve been through an experience as well. At least it´s a gazillion times better than Pearl Harbour.

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Posted by on March 13, 2011 in Film


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