Russian WWII Movie ‘Come and See’ Used Live Rounds to Make the Actors Look Truly Terrified

Movie production safety has been in the news for tragic reasons. After a horrific accident on the set of Rust killed the director of photography Halyna Hutchins, intense scrutiny has been focused on nearly every part of the entertainment industry.

From on-set safety to staff conditions, there are calls for change and vows from high-profile stars to refuse the use of live guns on set. Movie buffs are drawing comparisons between the Rust incident and other tragic on-set accidents.

With this in mind, one film everyone should know about is 1985’s Come and See. Largely heralded as one of the greatest war movies of all time, the Russian production’s set saw many questionable moves in terms of safety.

‘Rust’ and ‘The Crow’ had high-profile accidental deaths

The focus of recent news has been Alec Baldwin’s firing of a gun that ultimately killed Hutchins. But it echoed a tragedy that took place in 1993. On the set of The Crow, Bruce Lee’s son, Brandon Lee, was hit with a live round from a mishandled prop gun. The 28-year-old died soonafter.

The aftermath of both accidents is tragic for all involved. Obviously, the actors and crew who lost their lives have paid the ultimate price for these missteps. Those who fired the faulty prop guns also experience trauma.

Alec Baldwin has released a statement assuring fans of his great remorse and commitment to cooperating with the investigation. Meanwhile, many in the entertainment industry say there is no reason to rely on real guns when so many alternatives exist.

‘Come and See’ is a critically-acclaimed war movie

Premiering in 1985, Come and See has been called “the most important anti-war movie that has ever been made,” according to Young Pioneer Tours. The film receives critical acclaim and often tops lists of must-see war movies. However, it’s still relatively obscure with few people knowing much about its production or even its existence. 

Set during World War II, Come and See focuses on a small sliver of the larger drama. In this story, a young boy from Belarus experiences the brutality and negative transformations of war firsthand.

Because of the terrifying realism of the scenes depicting the horrors of war, many point to the film as an excellent representation of anti-war sentiments. No one viewing this kind of tragedy could remain unmoved against the circumstances. 

‘Come and See’ took extreme measures in the name of realism 

A poster for Elem Klimov's now-classic masterpiece film "Come and See" is seen on a wall in Moscow, Soviet Union, in 1985
Poster for Elem Klimov’s now-classic masterpiece film Come and See is seen on a wall in Moscow, Soviet Union, in 1985 | Simon Knott/Contributor

The making of the Soviet anti-war film Come and See shocks every movie enthusiast who looks into it. As Russia Beyond reports, Klimov used live rounds on the set in hopes of maintaining authenticity. Some of these deadly projectiles flew just over the heads of the terrified actors. The looks of horror you see on their faces are genuine.

This wasn’t the only extreme measure taken for authenticity’s sake. In one scene, machine guns take down a cow. This wasn’t simulated; production performed the shooting in real life.

The film’s young star, teenager Aleksey Kravchenko, undergoes a startling transformation from a healthy young boy to a harrowed teen near starvation by the film’s end. The actor was required to practice a starvation diet before and during filming. The director hoped this would make the emaciated look real.

The director even had a psychotherapist practice hypnosis on Kravchenko before some scenes, hoping to provide some protection from their psychological impact. 

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