One of the most harrowing war films I’ve ever seen, full of the unremitting rage of experience. Soviet partisans scoop up a boy from his village and enlist him to fight the German occupation, during which one out of four of the entire population of Belorussia would ultimately be killed. As he is batted around a nightmarish landscape, we watch him struggle to process a level of devastation that no one, especially not a child, could make any sense of. Klimov occasionally uses almost beautiful images as strange reprieves from the brutality, but the darkest events he recreates are nothing compared to the real footage of the horrors inflicted on civilians that he deploys in the film’s last minutes, before his fury finally gives way to grief.
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The Bri-terion Collection
I’m loving the Criterion Channel streaming service, so every week I’m going to share my favorite new find.