Come and See is the ultimate horrors of war film. Without being overly bloody or explicit in general about its content, it paints an absolutely devastating and harrowing picture of the Nazi invasion of the Byelorussian part of the Soviet Union during World War II. It stars a young man, barely out of his preteen years, who joins an army unit after finding a rifle buried in the ground near his home. He is left behind after they march out, and after losing his hearing in a bombing, he returns home with a strange girl only to find his village has been wiped out. They find some survivors of various raids, and he goes off with some men for supplies before eventually coming face to face with the soldiers that have been ravaging his country.
Come and See was the last film director Elem Klimov made, and you can see how it would be someone's final statement as an artist. It at times seems sensationalistic, with many scenes of the young main actor just gaping or cringing in absolute horror as the worst stuff he's ever seen constantly happens around him. But no single moment is over the top - it's just that's he's constantly being exposed to the worst things that can happen when your homeland is overrun by an unsympathetic force. There's eventually a point where some of the Russians finally have an upper hand on some Nazis, and you've just been so beaten down by the preceding hours of the movie that you don't even want to see them take revenge. It's very powerful film making. Long takes are used extensively to increase the sense of reality, and some of the images are unforgettable despite the seeming lack of budget for extravagant set ups. The spectacular climactic sequence is made up almost entirely of well-edited found footage, and it's effective as anything that could have been done with original work. It's hard to say I loved a movie that's so difficult at times to look at, but as I said before, it's the best example I've seen of portraying the truth about war's worst elements.