Dec 16, 2010

Come and See

Despite the incessant demonizing and parodying of the Nazis in Hollywood films, very few of these films are even remotely responsible in regards to presenting objective facts. I cannot count the number of times I have seen well dressed blonde beasts in SS uniforms in Hollywood films tormenting ghettoized Jews for the mere delight. Of course, such crimes and atrocities occurred but not nearly as much as the Hollywood Zionist hate-machine would have you believe. Hollywood never really lets the viewer know the virtual hell on earth that the typical Eastern European Slav had to face during World War II. Thankfully, a couple Soviet filmmakers took it upon themselves to recreate the atrocities committed during the Nazi occupation of Eastern European. In the 1985 Soviet masterpiece Come and See directed by Elem Klimov, one gets a very realistic view regarding the Waffen-SS occupation of Byelorussia SSR, which upon conclusion will no doubt haunt the viewer for many years to come. 

 Oskar Dirlewanger

One aspect of World War II that very few people know about is the fact the Germany’s most deadly military forces, The Waffen-SS divisions, were made up of mostly (around 60%) non-Germans. Aside from allowing fellow Nordic Aryans (Dutch, Norwegians, etc.) to fight for Germany, The Waffen-SS would later include (out of desperation) various nonwhite divisions composed of Indians, Arabs, Slavs (who were mostly considered European/Asiatic hybrids) and Tatars. Out of all of these non-Aryan untermensch divisions, the most degenerate and despicable was probably SS-Sturmbrigade "Dirlewanger" which was commanded by convicted sex criminal and soldier genius Dr. Oskar Dirlewanger. Despite holding a doctorate in political science and holding down a decent teaching job, Herr Dirlewanger could not keep his hands off little girls which resulted in his imprisonment in a plush concentration camp. Fortunately for dirty Dirlewanger, he was butt buddies with a comrade who also happened to be friends with Reichsführer-SS Heinrich Himmler. Asiatic-looking SS leader Heinrich Himmler granted Dirlewanger a swift release from his temporary home at a concentration camp and eventually Dirlewanger had command of his own Waffen-SS division. SS-Sturmbrigade "Dirlewanger”, like Oskar Dirlewanger himself, was composed of criminals from concentration camps as well as homosexuals, Gypsies, mental institution patients, Slavs, and various other undesirable rabble fighters for Uncle Adolf’s Reich. 

The film Come and See is loosely based on the killing sprees committed by Oskar Dirlewanger’s degenerate criminal commandos in Byelorussia. The film follows a young boy named Florya who joins up with Soviet partisans in defending virtually medieval-like peasant villages. Florya reminds me of a friend of mine whose father escaped from Eastern Europe after the Second World War. Like my friend, despite his fair hair and pasty white skin, Florya (like a lot of Slavs) has a slightly Asiatic appearance, surely the result of the numerous Mongol invasions that occurred in Eastern European throughout history. The great American writer Ambrose Bierce once satirically defined Russians as “A person with a Caucasian body and a Mongolian soul” in his book The Devil’s Dictionary but I think he was being too generous in his description of Slavic phenotypes. Although a lot of Slavic men tend to be aesthetically displeasing, the women seem to be some of the most beautiful in the world. After being left by himself at a partisan training camp, wandering the woods, Florya meets the Slavic beauty Glasha. In the scorched earth world of Come and See, Glasha seems to be the only white light that has reached Florya’s petrified eyes. In one particularly beautiful and surreal scene, Glasha dances exquisitely on a small box in the rain, providing Florya with a small sense of joy and allowing him to forget (for a small moment) that Dirlewanger’s army of vicious mentally defective criminals are just around the corner. 

I must admit that Come and See is easily one of the best (if not the best) paced films that I have had the honor of viewing. Throughout the film, Florya comes upon various scenes of Dirlewanger-esque atrocities. As Come and See progresses, the fear and disillusionment in Florya’s eyes becomes more apparent until at the end of the film his horrified face resembles that of a man being burnt alive, carrying a similar expression to those burnt corpse photographs taken after the Anglo-American firebombing campaign in Dresden Germany. Come and See essentially chronicles the spiritual death of a young boy who is forced by circumstance to grow to be a soldier in just a couple days. The infamous Viennese philosopher Otto Weininger said it best when he wrote, "Innocence is ignorance. To know and remain innocent would be the highest” as by the end of Come and See, Florya has certainly lost his innocence and has taken up the rifle as his new mission from God. 

What finally changes Florya from an inquisitive young boy into a driven soldier is when he is becomes a human plaything of Dirlewanger’s SS men. Despite seeing various carnage and the suffering victims of Nazi atrocities, it is not until he becomes a victim of Dirlewanger barbarism that he becomes a true believer and fighter for the Soviet Partisan cause. During the pillaging and burning of a small village, Florya becomes completely aware of the depravity and remorselessness that can consume his fellow human beings. Those that do not know that Come and See was inspired by the atrocities committed by the Dirlewanger crew might find the acting exaggerated as the soldiers commit atrocities with a spirit of sadistic glee. Florya even finds himself as a possible subject featured in a Waffen-SS photo album when a German soldier places his Luger across the temple of the horrified boy’s head in a peculiar yet viciously powerful pose for a photograph. Despite most of the villagers being burned alive in their community church, Florya manages to escape the ordeal (at least physically) unscathed.

By the end of Come and See, Florya is drunk with bloodlust for revenge. After seeing that Soviet Partisans have captured the a group of the Waffen-SS men that were responsible for destroying the village and its inhabitants, Florya hands his Soviet comrades gasoline so that the enemy soldiers can be engulfed in a miniature Holocaust. Most of the Waffen-SS men and their Byelorussian collaborators plead for their lives, including an elderly German who talks about how he is a decent man and a loving Grandfather. Disgusted with the older officer’s cowardice, a young and handsome soldier puts an end to these laughable peace relations. This young Nazi officer is no doubt a true believer as described by Eric Hoffer and lets the Slavs know that he feels they are an inferior race that needs to be exterminated (starting with the children) as they spread the plague of international untermensch bolshevism. Naturally, the enraged Slavs act accordingly but unfortunately for Florya, he does not get to utilize his gasoline as he had hoped. 

Come and See would be the last film directed by Russian auteur Elem Klimov. A couple years before directing the film, Klimov lost his wife Larisa Shepitko, also a filmmaker, in a tragic car accident. Shepitko directed her own World War II film The Ascent (1976), which also happened to be her last completed film as a director. Unlike Come and See, The Ascent has a fairly bleak and nihilistic message, showing the hopeless weakness of individuals during war times. Despite all the misery and atrocities featured in Come and See, the film still carries a message of fighting till the bitter end. Elem Klimov had most of Come and See shot on a Steadicam, giving the film an authenticity that makes the film feel all the more chilling. Klimov was also looking for an extreme realism with the wardrobe as most of the SS uniforms were originals from World War II, as was the weaponry and real live ammunition fired throughout the film. Next to the dismay and arduous realism of Klimov’s Come and See, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List feels like a glossy dystopian action film, full of pointless sentimentalism and contrived emotions. If there ever was a war film that could truly capture the horrors of war, Come and See is that film. 

-Ty E


jervaise brooke hamster said...

You were right about the scene where Glasha dances on the box in the rain, its one of the most magical and hypnotically charming mo-girl-ts in the entire history of cinema. Of course another astonishing mo-girl-t at around the same time in the film (although this time depicting the opposite; namely: pain, misery, suffering, anguish, despair, etc) is when they`re in that clearing in the forrest (a truly magical place, i`d love to visit it someday) and the [REAL] bombs start falling and exploding all around them, that is another truly astounding mo-girl-t of cinematic genius.

jervaise brooke hamster said...

I just re-watched this on YouTube and theres no question in my mind now that it is the greatest film of all time.

Anonymous said...

Its astonishing to think that although you`ve reveiwed this film you still haven`t reveiwed the second greatest war movie ever made on this site, "Cross of Iron" (1976), Peckinpah's masterwork is almost on a par with Klimov's film.