Maria’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's impressive that this was Tarkovsky's first feature film. Similar to some of his other works, I love how the story is able to effortlessly flow from dreams to flashbacks to reality. The ahead of its time, smooth camera work helps provide this seemless effect. In my opinion, this makes it feel more cohesive since there aren't many sudden cuts. I absolutely adore the way that kissing scene was captured. That's one shot from this film that I'll always remember because it's just so cool.
The story itself has a lot to say. When people think about war, they don't always think about how children are impacted. This is another film that offers a great reminder of how horrific it was for the children having to endure the violence and affects of WWII. I was entertained the entire runtime and the film didn't overstay its welcome, but it could've been slightly more engaging in my opinion. Tarkovsky was able to effectively get his point across before making the film feel too long.
Tarkovsky's filmography is beautifully shot, and this film is no exception with the stunning camera work and lighting. The child actor in the role of Ivan gives an excellent performance. The theme this story explores is an important one that serves as a reminder for today's viewers. Overall, a very beautiful and heartbreaking film.