Come and See is the greatest anti-war movie ever made – and it’s Russian

As horrifying as the reports coming out of Ukraine are, we are seeing – quite literally – only a small part of what is happening. Media organizations pixelate parts of images they deem too graphic and cut video clips before they get too awful.

There are, of course, ways around this (social media links, unregulated websites) for those determined and tech-savvy enough, but if you’re a “normal” consumer of news, then what you see is, for many obvious and generally reasonable reasons, well packaged and checked.

The same goes for war dramas. Very few movies or TV shows have managed to properly capture the conflict in all its myriad horrors. Heroism, redemption, courage, sacrifice and camaraderie: these are the tropes we understand and demand, but they are only the surface of war.

There is, however, a point where the two threads intersect: a film that shows without flinching the reality of the war in Eastern Europe. It’s called Come and See, and it’s one of the most amazing movies ever made. Despite its title, it sometimes seems to bypass normal methods of visualization (eyes, ears, and brain), sneaking right into your cells and central nervous system.

The title itself gives a clue as to what is hidden inside. “Come and see” is taken from the book of Revelation and appears four times in a row, once for each of the four horsemen. The last of them is the pale horse, “and his name that sat upon him was death, and hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the quarter of the earth, to kill by sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

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