The first straight war film inducted into my Hall of Fame is, paradoxically, quite the opposite of what’s expected from a war movie. Even for a ‘horrors of war’ picture, Elem Klimov’s staggering depiction of the Nazi occupation of Byelorussia in World War II, seen through the eyes of a young boy, is in a league of it’s own. Gone are the honour, the glory and the courage; what we are left with is an ugly, brutal and savage portrait. Despite being resplendent with imagery akin to an unfolding nightmare, our following of young Florya trials, played by Alexei Kravchenko (who ages what seems decades over the course of the film), is frighteningly familiar. Cast and crew attest to accurate recreations of the atmosphere, and an eldery German Wermacht soldier, at an after-film discussion, stood up and said “I will testify: everything that is told in this film is the truth. And the most frightening and shameful thing for me is that this film will be seen by my children and grandchildren.” With its definitive statement on the cycle of violence and hatred, Klimov’s agonizing film is as strong an anti-war statement as cinema has ever come.