Ivan's Childhood

Ivan's Childhood ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

Ivan’s Childhood is a cinematic experience in the truest sense. It centers around a young boy names Ivan, who has gone through death of his mother and sister by the hands of the Germans in World War II, seeks vengeance for their deaths by being a scout for the Russian army. The film inter-cuts between images of the treachery of the war, and calm, peaceful images of Ivan’s life before. Within these scenes of war, we see glimpses of who Ivan truly is, and not the vengeful persona he puts out to his superiors.

The men in this film who care for Ivan are what make the story truly tragic. They love him, they truly do, but they only treat him with respect out of sympathy for hi situation, while he believes it’s because he is their equal. The boy is torn apart by the loss of his family, and the vengeance he seeks is on that he cannot have because of his age.

I won’t lie to you though; I don’t watch a Tarkovsky film just because the story sounds interesting. I watch them because of how masterful he was at his craft. In Ivan’s Childhood, we see that he is not interested in the particulars of how anyone else makes movies, rather, he wants to make something that is truly an expression of himself. Every shot is composed like a painting, and every scene is so atmospheric and singular that I couldn’t help but be affected.

The way in which he composes a scene is remarkably different from anyone else. He is almost completely focused on what the character is feeling in each scene, which helps build a deep connection between the audience and the character. The isolation of sound, the isolation of feelings, and the isolation of a character are all methods that Tarkovsky uses to make us feel, and he does it masterfully.