I've always heard that you can't create an effective anti-war film because its war scenes would be considered too exciting and thrilling for an audience. And yet they're films that proved to break that barrier, like for instance Oliver Stone's Platoon and Steven Spielberg's Saving Private Ryan. But there was a Russian film that accomplished that even before they did, which was Elem Klimov's horrifying masterpiece Come and See. This 1985 Soviet World War II film takes place during the Nazi German occupation of the Byelorussian SSR. Come and See is considered by several critics to be one of the most devastating and disturbing projections of war ever captured on the screen, as it is seen through the eyes of a young and innocent Soviet partisan.
The story of the lively young partisan Florya is based on fact and the ruthless portrayal of the horror of Nazism depicted within the film is one of the most disturbing portrayals of human evil I've ever witnessed in a film. Klimov once stated that when Come and See first premiered it was so shocking for audience members that ambulances had to be called in to take away particularly impressionable viewers, both in the Soviet Union and abroad. Most people when viewing Come and See would like to think the Russians were exaggerating the depiction and actions of the Nazi party but unfortunately when seeing the final title card at the end of the film that states that everything that was depicted actually really occurred, you come to the unfortunate conclusion that they were not. Come and See depicts realistic brutality and yet they're several touches of nightmarish surrealism which can be compared to Frances Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now; adding a poetic and haunting dreamlike world within the gritty reality of its horror.