Idi i smotri (Come and See) (1985)
Director: Elem Klimov.
Starring: Aleksei Kravchenko (Florya Gaishun), Olga Mironova (Glasha), Liubomiras Lauciavicius (Kosach), Vladas Bagdonasm, Juris Lumiste, Viktor Lorents, Kazimir Rabetsky, Yevgeni Tilicheyev, Aleksandr Berda, G. Velts, V. Vasilyev, Igor Gnevashev, Vasili Domrachyov, G. Yelkin, Ye. Kryzhanovsky.
Resistance to the German invasion of and atrocities against the Soviet Union in Byelorussia and its effects on a young boy caught up in the brutality.
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
An older man holding a whip tells someone to come out from hiding. A young boy finally comes out. He talks in a false low, gravely voice saying that maybe he is an idiot, "but now Iím a German idiot!" The man, the village elder named Yustin, shouts to the boy from his horse-drawn wagon that if he wonít listen to his father then he will have to listen to the cane. He drives away. Two boys hiding in the bushes start laughing at the boy and his peculiar way of talking and walking. He is acting like a sergeant barking out orders.
The boy and a friend named Flor dig in the sand in search of a weapon. The boy tells his friend to dig harder. He says: "You canít join the partisans without a gun." The friend tells the boy that there is nothing good to find at this site. The boy tells Flor that he found his weapon at this site so keep digging. The sound of a motorcycle causes the boys to run for cover. The friend jumps into a shallow hole. There he finds a rifle buried under the sand.
An airplane flies overhead and the boys stop to watch it.
The mother of Flor asks her son to stay at home, to take pity on her and his two twin sisters. The boy says he has to go. Mother scurries over and picks up a small axe, gives it to the boy and tells him to kill her and his two sisters. The boy just sits there so mother hits him repeatedly with perhaps a piece of rug. When she finishes she says she wonít let him go.
Two partisans look through the window of the house. Flor lets them in. They want to know where his weapon is. He gets it and with his suitcase next to him he looks ready and eager to go. The men stay awhile. They say that Kosach is their leader. Shots are heard and the two men and the boy leave. Mother chases after them begging them not to take her son.
Flor is in the camp of the partisans. He has a black-eye on the left side of his face. Some of the partisans stand for a picture. The cameraman grabs Flor and puts him in the picture up front. In all there may be 200 partisans in the picture.
Flor has night guard duty. He sees someone coming and asks for the password. The man comes up to him and asks him if he is a newcomer. Yes. Whatís the name. Gaishun, platoon 3. The man asks why Gaishun didnít shoot him. Flor says itís because he recognized him. He is the leader Kosach. The man tells Gaishun to shoot anyone if they donít give the password. He leaves and is followed by a young lady. Gaishun tells her to give the password but she just calls him an idiot and chases after the man.
Flor is inside a huge pot cleaning it. He sees the pretty young woman and hides his face so she wonít see him. She is followed by six admirers, one of whom gives her a bouquet of white flowers. She comes over to the pot and looks at Flor. She then spreads the flowers over him. He looks up at her very sheepishly. She has just a hint of a smile on her face.
The pot is used to cook the beef. The partisan leader says to his men and women that this will be very difficult for all. Hitler is waging total war against them, a war to wipe them all out. The commander, who Flor met on guard duty, asks if there is anyone who is sick and canít go. No one speaks up, but one man says that his boots are falling apart. The commander tells the man to take the boots of the newcomer who will be staying behind.
Flor is angry about being left behind and having his boots taken from him. So he grabs his suitcase and rifle and heads out. He trudges through a swamp, gets tired and sits. He hears the young woman crying. He goes over to check on her. As he approaches her, he starts to cry with her. She stops crying and starts laughing. Then he starts laughing. She asks him his name and he says his full name is Florian. Her name is Lily as in lily of the valley. She explains that she was almost sent to Germany by the enemy. Her real name is Glascha. She asks him why he is here. She laughs and says that Kosach took pity on the poor boy and let him stay behind. Glascha tells Flor that Kosach will be killed. Flor says sheís lying.
Glascha then starts talking in an abstract way that makes Flor wonder if she is sane. She asks him why doesnít he see her? She is alive. Florís the one who is dead. He is deaf and blind. He doesnít hear the birds and he doesnít see her. She wants to love and have babies. She says she would do anything for him, even blow herself up with a grenade. She grabs for the grenade on Florís belt. Flor stops her. So she grabs him and kisses him passionately. He pushes her away saying that she is a fool, but heís no fool. He has come here to fight the Germans. He is not Kosach and asks: "Are you crazy?" He cries.
Glascha starts laughing again and asks Flor if she hurt his feelings. He doesnít like her teasing him and backs away. A plane flies overhead. She grabs Florís rifle and points it at the airplane. Flor deflect sthe weapon and Glascha runs into the forest. Flor chases her.
They stop and see German parachutists coming down out of the sky. Bombs also start falling near them. They run to get away. The partisan camp is hit with many bombs. Florís ears are ringing from the noise and he has a bloody nose. He yells for Glascha but there is no answer. Then she comes out of the forest and shouts to him. He canít hear her. A German parachutist is stuck up in a tree. Glascha takes Florís hand and drags him away trying to avoid the parachutists. They are fired at. German soldiers are virtually right next to them as they march through the bombed forest.
After the Germans pass Flor constructs a little shelter hidden amidst the trees. They lay down beside each other under a coat. Glascha is very cold and lays next to Flor to warm up. A stork comes by the shelter and looks at them. The next day they go from tree to tree playing. Glascha grabs his cap and starts dancing for him.
Glascha and Flor (who hobbles along on home-made crutches) walk along a dirt path near Flor's farm. Itís his old village. He rushes to his motherís house but she is not there. Nor are his twin sisters. He tells Glascha that they went out and tells her to sit down. A bowl near the fire is still warm. The bowl contains soup and they eat it, but then Glascha throws it up. Flor runs outside to look around. He tells Glascha that he knows where they went. He grabs his rifle and they start running. Behind one of the houses are a great many bodies of dead villagers. He runs through a swamp and shouts to Glascha to follow him, saying they are here. He has to force his way through the mud while Glascha holds on to his coat.
They finally make it to the other side. Glascha starts going hysterical screaming that his family is not here. "Theyíre dead!" she screams at Flor. Flor insists that they are here and pushes Glascha back into the muddy water. He quickly jumps in to fish her out. As they get near land they see a partisan.
The man (named Rubezh) comes to help Glascha, who tells him that Flor lost his family, went crazy and dragged her through the swamp. She also says that heís deaf. The man looks at Flor menacingly. The two survivors are taken to an area of low forest where they see many villagers sitting and waiting. They tell Flor that the Germans killed his family. He sees the village elder whose body is almost completely burned except for the lower legs. He says the Germans set him on fire. He begged them to kill him but they just laughed.
Flor tries to get away from the sight. He starts digging a hole in the mud and puts his head inside. Glascha pulls his head out. She feeds him on the leaves of a plant. Flor seems to be in shock. Glascha checks his head for lice. Flor has her hair cropped off as a measure to get rid of lice.
A man makes a scarecrow with a head in the form of Hitler made out of mud so the people can make fun of it. Still in shock, Flor goes with Rubezh and two other men to find some food. The only thing he says to Glascha is: "Itís all my fault."
The Gerrmans chase the men shooting at them. They all escape alive into the forest. They still have some food they found. The men plant the Hitler scarecrow in the middle of a dirt road intersection used by the Germans. A German plane drops messages for the partisans.
Two of the men lag behind Flor and Rubezh. They step on mines at about the same time and are gone. Flor and Rubezh find a part of the lower leg and the foot of one of the men.
The two fellows take a cow from a farmer. The men milk the cow. The Germans send up a flare and then open fire with machine guns complete with tracer bullets. The cow still stands, but Rubezh is dead. Flor tries to take the dead manís rifle but his grip on it is too strong. The cow starts to walk away and Flor crawls over to grab its rope. The Germans open up again on them and this time the cow is hit. Flor hides behind the body of the cow. Another flare is sent up. Flor lies completely still.
In the morning Flor awakens. He used the cow as a pillow for his head. He tries to make the cow stand up, but the cow is definitely dead. He cuts into the cow with his knife. He then leaves it behind. Now he only has his knife and rifle plus a grenade.
He finds a horse attached to a hay wagon. He takes the horse and starts walking. The farmer tries to stop him, but Flor forces him to back off. The boy starts talking about his rifle butt being broken, until the farmer warns him to be quiet and listen. He tells Flor to hide all his military equipment under some hay. German soldiers jump out from a vehicle. The farmer drives the horse and wagon with Flor in the back with the hay. He tells Flor that his new name is that of Zhenya, the name of a boy who recently drowned. He also tells him the names of his mother and his four siblings.
As noise of German vehicles increases. Flor jumps off the hay wagon telling the farmer to hide. The Germans drive past the abandoned horse and wagon. Two Germans on a motorcycle drive by carrying a corpse of a half-nude farmer with a sign saying: "Insulted a German officer!"
German soldiers converge on the farm of the man. Flor and the farmer try to hide the best they can from the Germans. Later the farmer introduces Flor to his large extended family and some of the neighbors who have all huddled together in the same room. A German officer comes into the room. The villagers feed him. Other men come in and out. The Germans make an announcement to the people of the village of Perekhody. The villagers are forced into the streets. Flor goes into the street and shouts to the people that they will all be killed. A man shuts Flor up. The Germans tell the people they are all going to Germany (which probably means they are all going to be killed).
The villagers are forced into a barn. Flor is just one of many in the tightly packed barn. The Germans catch a Jew and throw him into the barn. There are several natives of Byelorussia that aid the Germans. One of them fires a weapon and tells the crowd to be quiet. The Russians start shouting: "The beasts!" Flor peaks out a window to see the Germans surrounding the area. He comes out of the window as ordered by one of the Germans. A woman jumps out of the window with a child but the child is thrown back into the barn. A German soldier drags the woman off by her hair.
Some pillows are soaked with gasoline. The Germans start throwing hand grenades into the barn one after another. Then they throw Molotov cocktail at the barn to set it afire. All the while the Germans are clapping and laughing and whooping it up as the screams of burning men, women and children ring in the air. Then they all start firing into the barn. A flame thrower is used to make the barn burn faster. The pillows soaked with gasoline are thrown into the mixture.
Poor Flor and some others are forced to sit and watch the genocide. A German nurse eats lobster in her truck. Then flame throwers are used to burn the rest of the farm buildings. A group of German soldiers pose for a picture with one of the soldiers holding a gun to the head of the kneeling Flor. The picture taken, the soldiers walk away from Flor. He collapses to the ground. He lays absolutely still. A soldier on a motorcycle comes over to kick Flor, but he plays dead and the soldier drives away. The Germans in the back of a truck gang rape a woman.
Flor walks into the woods. He sees a German female dying from a bullet wound inflicted by the partisans. Flor goes to find his weapon. He uses some bandages he found to patch up the butt of his rifle. Kosach watches him. Flor later sees Glascha coming up slowly walking in bear feet. She has been raped repeatedly and blood flows down her legs. She is a physical and mental wreck. Flor says to himself that she wants to love and have babies.
The partisans have captured a few German soldiers. The partisans want to kill them. They find out they captured the commander who gave the orders for the atrocities. Through an interpreter, the commander says he never hurt anyone. One of the S.S. men tells the commander to sit down and be quiet. He scolds him for not acting like a German officer should. Flor identifies the S.S. man as the one who told the people that those without children could come out through the window. The S.S. fellow spouts his racist crap about the Slavs being an inferior people and their nation doesnít deserve to exist. The translator says that he and his men are not Germans. He begs for his and their lives.
Flor gives the non-Germans the gas can and the translator starts pouring the gasoline over the Germans. A female partisan opens fire on the captives and then others join in the firing. All of the men are killed.
Scenes of dead concentration camp victims are shown. Then Florís face is shown. He looks more like a middle-aged man with wrinkles under his eyes. Flor shoots a picture of Hitler in the head.
War images are shown in reverse along with shots of Flor shooting his rifle at the picture of Hitler. The images end with a picture of Adolf Hitler as a child sitting on his motherís lap.
682 Byelorussian villages were burnt to the ground together with all their inhabitants.
The partisans return to the forests. Flor rushes to catch up with the rear of the column.
Good movie. At first you think the movie is going to be a nice love story, but that does not last for long. How could it with the German beasts on the loose? The movie is a bit hard to watch because of the many atrocities committed by the Germans. There is a bit of revenge but not enough of it. Aleksei Kravchenko is great as Florya Gaishun the young partisan. So come and see. It's a good movie.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
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