Monday, June 15, 2009

Oh God My Eyes

Folks, I watch and collect war movies. I have seen a lot of them, and have collected quite a bunch over time. I have, thanks to Vulcan Video in Austin, seen a good many foreign war movies. And now even more thanks to my wife. Which leads us to this little gem, "Come And See" by Elem Klimov. This movie is a Russian flick and won numerous awards. Sean Penn even commented on how great it was. Yeah, well if we needed more proof he was a moron we have it now.

For those who saw my Facebook warning, I will hit a bit more detail. This movie was about a young teenager who joins up with the Partisans in Byelorussia to fight the Nazis. Now, we all know that a) partisan warfare is a highly unpleasant type of warfare, b) the Eastern Front was probably the NASTIEST part of WWII with two highly motivated groups of very nasty people trying to outdo the other in nastiness, and c) any movie made in the USSR about WWII is going to be overboard on the nastiness. So with this formula I was expecting a pretty vicious movie. My wife, upon learning I had ordered this from Amazon, told me that she had seen it and WOULD NOT ever watch it again (her high school took her and her class when they were 16 to see it and I would say that was child abuse).

My response: "Oooooo, I have to see this now."

Yeah, that will teach me.

This movie was absolutely disgusting, made very little sense other than "See how evil the Nazis are", and appeared to be an experiment in cinema as to how to portray war in film. It had lots of allegory and innuendo, and was over the top on symbolism (the only thing missing was a giant flashing sign that said "Nazis Suck" in the background continually flashing). It had several characters who were plain nuts and made no sense unless you could dig down for the deeper meaning (for a war film? dude, war is hell and Nazis suck, what more do you need?) and even then it was iffy for the mental hookup. It showed two villages being exterminated (the piece de resistance was the second village which took 45 minutes to show it getting entirely burned down and all associated crimes with it), several rapes (very unpleasant and I skipped over them, I can imagine what my wife was thinking when she saw this at age 16), torture, a very liberal use of flamethrowers, the after effect of mines, the old "how many bodies can a rifle bullet go through?" trick, cripes you get it.

This thing was more of a "Faces of Death" than an actual movie. Like I said earlier on Facebook, this was a combination Shock French Art Film, Ingmar Bergmann, and hyper violent "Saving Private Ryan". Only make sure you pull the worst parts from all of those movies and combine them.

I am keeping this movie to use against Andy, but I honestly don't know if I can stand to watch it again.

Avoid this turkey, it hurts.


  1. You can call me a completely squeamish p***y if you like; I don't care about the rest of the categories of violence, but I can't watch rape scenes -- thankfully that disqualifies the movie from my "hmmm, maybe I'll see it anyway just so I know HOW bad it really is" morbid-curiosity.

  2. Slighly on and off topic comment here:
    Since you collect war films,dDid you ever see a film from the late 80s called "The Beast" set in Afghanistan during the Soviet Invasion? The tank in this movie is a main character much like the sub is in "Das Boot", but there is lots of other stories as well. I found it a very good movie - just curious if you've seen it.
    As for what you watched - sounds more like a snuff film and a war film. I prescribe watching "The Dirty Dozen" until you feel better.

  3. I own "The Beast". It has one of my all time opening scenes. If you want to see what a "We are the ARMY and we could care about what the world thinks" moment, this is it.

    Jim, I wouldn't call you that at all. I couldn't watch the scenes. Like I said this movie was just plain wrong on so many levels. I am still amazed that some dough-head in the education department actually made high school kids WATCH this. I guess it serves as a great example as to what you can get with a government school, especially one run by the National Government.

    I washed the movie off by seeing "Uprising". Cable movie, but very good. It was about the Jewish Ghetto uprising in Warsaw in 1943. You knew how it ended, but it was good anyway. People not going gently into the good night are always a good thing for me (unless they are Imperial Japanese or Nazis in which case get the Napalm).

  4. Damn, meant to say "All time favorite opening scenes".

  5. I'm glad to hear that you've seen it and liked it. I don't find many people that have actually seen it.

  6. I'm not generally a war-movie (they drag in the middle and I get tired of the emotional-appeal "big moment" blaze of glory/honor bit) fan but The Beast sounds totally worthy.

    Although now that I think about it, I did really like the movie Glory.

  7. Glory was a very good movie. You'll like The Beast - it's gritty, but not overpowering.

  8. Ah, Glory was good. I would say you need to watch the older war movies from the 70s. A Bridge Too Far and The Longest Day do not drag in the middle as they are actually trying to follow the actual history and books by Ryan.

    You are right though, modern war movies do follow that pattern you are talking about. I really don't like the drama injections they seem to have made manditory (such as the romance in "The Great Raid", both people were real, but didn't even know each other until after the Americans were in the prison camp). Hollywood has forgotten that you don't need that stuff or super-heroic endings to make a great movie. If you did your research you could find the "That guy did WHAT?!?" ending that were real.

    Audie Murphy anyone?

    Ooooo, now that would be a great remake: "To Hell and Back", the Audie Murphy story.

  9. A bridge to far was a very good movie, but I haven't seen the Longest Day yet. Better add that to my Netflix queue.
    Speaking of people doing amazing things and old war films, I still greatly enjoy "Sgt. York". A bit jingoistic at times, but still a good movie.