This is both one of the most harrowing and one of the greatest films I have ever seen. Anti-war films portrayed through the perspective of a child or young person seem to be incredibly effective, e.g. Grave of the Fireflies or Empire of the Sun. However, what Come and See has over these similar films is how it refuses to shy away from the realities and grim nature of war.
The film follows Florya, a young teenager within rural Belarus who loses everything meaningful in his life. His family, almost his hearing, his control of his sanity? The film follows Florya travelling throughout Belarus as he attempts to flee the WWII atrocities only to be met by power-drunk Nazi officers. We quickly see the character of Florya develop from a stunned boy into a PTSD suffering young man.
The film is an interesting case study for understanding the horrors inflicted on people through occupations, genocides, or war. Klimov’s film is based on the true events that occurred in Belarus by the Nazis who were ordered to exterminate the Belarusians who were regarded as being of no use to the Nazi cause. Come and See is a small glimpse into the hardships faced by generations before us and makes me very grateful we live in the most peaceful time of Human History so far.