Milo Paulus’s review published on Letterboxd:
A brilliant journey through war of a strong young boy and his Soviet officer companions.
Ivan's Childhood is legendary director, Andrei Tarkovsky's first feature film, and rather a spectacular one. I've always been hesitant to watch a Tarkovsky film because his films seemed to daunting for me. Ivan's Childhood was my first Tarkovsky film, and it's a great one to start with. It's only 90+ minutes long (unlike other Tarkovsky films) and rather simple. It's a straightforward storyline, with some flashbacks/dreams here and there that are easy to pick out.
Ivan's Childhood tells the story of a young boy called Ivan Bondarev. He is a lone, strong, independent young man, despite being only a kid. Officers think highly of him (Particularly in one of the films' first scenes), and he clearly shows prowess in alot of scenes. (But also vulnerability in others.)
The film wields rather impressive cinematography. Shot in beautiful, moody monochrome the camera never ceases to capture nature, dreams, emotion and love. It's particularly impressive to note that the cinematography is this good for a fairly cheap, independent film debut. The way the nature is shot here (Trees, rain, water, etc.) reminded me strangely of The Revenant, in a more simple manner ofcourse.
The ineffable final sequence in the ruins of Berlin fully brings home the impact of the film's premise. This is a story about Ivan's Childhood and that is exactly what you get. Although the title is ironic as Ivan does not really have a childhood (a bleak one), but the films majestic and moving final shot suggests that Ivan does receive a kind of immortality beyond the bleak finality, that the Russian spirit itself cannot be stifled and will ultimately run free.