Sunday, April 3, 2016


Directed By: Elem Klimov 
Written By: Ales Adamovich & Elem Klimov 
Story By: Ales Adamovich 
Cinematography By: Aleksei Rodionov 
Editor: Valeriya Belova 
Production Design, Art Direction and Set Decoration By: Viktor Petrov 

Cast: Aleksey Kravchenko, Olga Mironova, Liubomaris Laucevicius, Vladas Bagdonas

During WWII, a Belarusian boy is thrust into the atrocities of war, fighting with a hopelessly unequipped Soviet resistance movement against ruthless German forces. Witnessing scenes of abject terror and surviving horrifying situations, he loses his innocence and then his mind.

The original name of the film was supposed to be "Kill Hitler." The name had to be changed because it was deemed inappropriate at that time. This was the Final film directed by Elem Klinov.

Author J.G. Ballard called it 'one of the greatest war films ever made'.

I have seen plenty of war films, while you never get used to them. This film is no exception. As we see war through the eyes of a young recruit in the Russian army. This film affected me more as it seems more of a personal tale as the war is being fought on the soul of the young man and we see how it affects his family, friends and neighbors to greater affect. As he willingly goes gung-ho into joining against his mothers wishes and in effect saves his own life. Though in the end he survives and what is it all worth in the end. To have to love with the atrocities he has witnessed.

Just as it does with the main character. This film leaves you haunted after.

This film is nothing short of amazing, as he is a willing participant. Though not ready for the depravity. as we see him in scenes we are also lead through the film and his experiences purely from his point of view. As we see the barbarism. The film manages to shock and disgust is as it goes along. None of the action seems stylized it feels more random.

Such arresting visuals as in One scene where they are swimming through the mud and as he swims from behind it looks like. He himself has been massacred and only exists as a torso form certain angles.

Though the films scenes feel surrealistic and we bask in the horror. We begin with innocence playing soldier and war with a young friend. That most young men are guilty of, having adrenaline imagining yourself a hero. Until the introduction of a found rifle that escalates Into volunteering for service. Giddy for the opportunity as his mother resists. Him then going off into the trenches and experiencing a brief brutal Introduction. Before the non-stop horror begins. As he slowly starts to lose his mind from the shock of all he is witnessing and being exposed to all of this as his fantasy version Of what he thought he would be experiencing becomes not a heroic escapade but a continuing massacre. That has no real battlefield as nowhere is truly safe, bit sticks to the woods and villages of his community and how the war more affects the innocents rather than the fighters who are left to witness the aftermath.

The film illustrates the camaraderie during the downtime and how fast violence can escalate in a moment’s notice and change your world in a matter of seconds.

A large part of this movie was filmed in Steadicam. The roaming cinematography across the landscapes and then the composed shots of faces. The film is always set out in the open and is usually outdoors.

The film doesn't wallow in violence it can say so much in a minor quick cut image of the aftermath.

He continues through the battlefield. Joining up with different resistances when he is separated from his troops. Through his journey he has ever changing companions. The only constant he has is his rifle.

We watch both sides Russians and Germans dress up the dead for intimidation as kind of mascots to their cause.

Watching this film helped me to overcome my prejudices when it comes to certain world cinema at large.

Often leaving the Character to give a full view of the situations going on around him. Irving a full balance of his experience in context of what is also around then. Not the entire war but this corner of it. That you imagine if it's this bad in this simple area imagine what it's like in other more populated areas. Which we have seen and learned about through history, books, films and survivors recollections. Which this is a look at his and other experiences. It's endless tension throughout.

The brutality often unnecessary more at the behest of the Nazis as is exhibited while they laugh as they commit these savage acts as they seem to be. This seems a totally different presentation of them.

It's a hard film to sit through host for it's brutality. Though excellently shot as an epic it definitely shows it was made to be experienced On the big screen. Would be much more effective to see it there.

Though doesn't disappoint or lose any of it's power or edge because of it.

It's been said that Aleksey Kravchenko was so overwhelmed with the film's subject matter that his hair turned gray during filming.

The director planned to have Aleksey Kravchenko hypnotized by a psychotherapist during the most dreadful and violent scenes so that they wouldn't affect his young mind. However Kravchenko turned out not to be susceptible to hypnosis and had to pretend all the way.

Live ammunition was used in the film - in interviews, actor Aleksey Kravchenko has described actual bullets passing some 10 centimeters above his head.

I have had this film on my queue for a while. Heard a lot of good things but just like most films that have a reputation I tend to Wait until I am truly ready for them. Don't want to make rash judgements.

One awful scene takes place as we witness a Nazi platoon take out and torture the citizens then decimate a village for no other reason than for fun claiming it is under orders. They find entertainment. And take trinkets and more like it's only a walk in the park. Or just another day. As we watch in horror. Hopefully proving the old adage wrong that we always watch movies only for entertainment. Sometimes we go to think have an experience feel something that affects us and forced us to face our own fears in some way. It's more of an experience for us to appreciate and find a soothing beauty in some way, shape or form. Even if it's filled with debaucharous and interpret that feeling at times.

The film is more about the death of innocence. By the end of the film he looks mine an aged old man.
The film is full of images you can't fully forget ever after having witnessed it. Like the characters as we watch victims walk around like zombies with very little hope of having a normal happy life again. As they have been through hell and unfortunately they survived when death might have been easier more humane and peaceful. And their argument after being caught is that they didn't do anything. Never killer or hurt an innocent bit did give orders an never tried to stop any of the atrocities they saw the men doing to bystanders and use the excuse of war for their abysmal behavior.

Not so much a film, but a statement and recreation of realizing what humanity is once it is lost and striving for it's return. He is struck dead and mute

This is a powerful film that is needed to be seen as it stirs up such anger and dread ad this is only from a recreation a mall factor of events. Hopefully never again will anyone innocent have to suffer or experience such evil and destruction not let it happen again... Unfortunately it will.

What a man with the worst ideas and the right amount of power can do ad affect the world making the innocent victims suffer for his own delusions. Burned to the ground along with it's inhabitants. We Never get to know anyone of the characters too personally as it isn't their story. Not a courageous or romantic ore this film shows you what war is and is against it

An unsung masterpiece, You can never forget the images or the feelings and terror the films bring up not only on screen but in you

As you watch this film you can't help but be ashamed at some of the empty films I have given credence to when this film shows how powerful and affecting cinema can be and desired to watch before and over this film

The film's closing epilogue states: "The Nazis burned down 628 Belarusian villages together with all the people in them."

Grade: A

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