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COME AND SEE

The restoration of Elem Klimov’s masterpiece, made in 1985, screens for the first time in England.

Come and See is the tragic story of the inhabitants of a village in Belorussia during World War II as teenager Florya joins the partisans and witnesses the horrors of the Nazi invasion. Once seen never forgotten, this crowning achievement of Soviet Cinema is a bold and breathtaking vision of hell on earth, visceral and unflinching in its depiction of the horrors of war; writer JG Ballard called it the ‘greatest anti-war film ever made’.

But if the power of Come and See was confined to graphic depictions of horror and death, it would be more exhausting than devastating, a test of audience endurance rather than the overpowering sensory experience that it undoubtedly is. Perhaps it’s the paternal sympathy Klimov feels towards his shattered hero, or the graceful solemnity of his images, but there’s a hideous beauty here amidst the suffering. A sense of wonder infuses the film, partly at the sheer extent of human brutality, but also at the sudden, unexpected loveliness of inherently terrible images. Tom Huddleston TIME OUT