Come and See (1985)

Come and See was inspired by the works of the Belorussian author Ales Adamovich and focuses on the German occupation of Belarus. Flyora, a teenage boy, joins the partisan movement and witnesses the atrocities that befell the civilians during the war. It’s a brutal and graphic film with many powerful and unforgettable scenes shot with great mastery.

Come and See has recently returned to cinema screens: you can find the list of showtimes here, or watch it with subtitles in English, German, Hungarian, and Italian here

Only “Old Men” Are Going Into Battle (1973)

When I watched it as a child, the main thing that shook me was the fact that during the war, people not only suffered and struggled to survive but also, at least occasionally, had time to do absolutely normal things and have fun. Despite the gloom that was upon them, there were moments when they could relax, sing, and laugh – and then they went back into battle to ensure that their descendants, too, would be able to enjoy these simple things.

There are two versions of this film – the colorized and the original black-and-white version, the latter available here (with English subtitles).

The Cranes Are Flying (1957)

Widely acclaimed, The Cranes Are Flying is one of the first films to depict the effects that the war had on the civilian population instead of focusing on events that took place on battlefields. It tells the story of Veronika, played by the wonderful Tatiana Samoilova, who’s left alone in Moscow after her fiance voluntarily leaves for war. This film is powerful in both cinematic and emotional aspects and will surely make you empathize with the characters.

You can watch it with subtitles in several languages, including English, here