Ivan's Childhood

Ivan's Childhood ★★★★

Ivan's Childhood is like a trance. A visceral, slow burning nightmare that clings to you in your waking moments.

For those on the battlefield however, conciousness is the nightmare.
War is humankinds foulest obsession, a world altering disease that consumes everything in its path. Tarkovsky and cinematographer Vadim Yusov find a beauty in the stark, otherworldly landscape that war creates. Frequently tracking through spindly forests or dead swamps with ethereal grace and framing subjects within the splintered wood and charred stone of obliterated buildings.

Tarkovsky also achieves this immense atmosphere without actually showing any battle sequences or moments of violence. He instead chooses to explore the things that happen during the brief moments of serenity amongst the chaos; the relationships that are forged, the things that are unsaid and the fear that exists behind tearful eyes.

Ivan himself is the audience's eyes and ears into war, a child whose innocence is perhaps the furthest thing away from conflict. But even innocence can be eroded by war, and even a child can be consumed by terror and the desire for revenge. It is a story made all the more devastating by the films non linear structure, cutting between wars harsh reality and Ivan's dreams and memories of a better life. A life that war has taken away from him and will never give back.

Not my favourite Tarkovsky, but easily up there with some of the best war films of all time. Like always with films like this I just wish I could've see it on the big screen.