22 August 2002 | simonapro
Probably the best Russian World War II drama you will ever see.
(***** out of *****)
Ivan's Childhood is Tarkovsky's debut feature film about a 12 year old boy who volunteers to fight in the front lines against the German invasion because his family where murdered by Nazis. His size and height make him the perfect spy for the Russians as he slides his way across muck and swamp to bring back vital information about the German offence that no other man can achieve. At the same time his commanding officers object to this boy being used as a tool of war but have no control over the matter because of Ivan's convictions to bring down those that killed his parents.
Shot in beautiful monochrome the camera never ceases to capture nature, religion, dreams and love - all of which are major elements in any Tarkovsky film. This motion picture is one of the most stunning independent movies you will ever see.
Sometimes Ivan cries like the child he is but this is not because of the burden of war but because he can not do what he wants most - to avenge the death of his family. Other times he is like a General in the making - standing up to his commanders, spitting orders back at them, making other soldiers look pale in comparison and walking into the fray without any fear attached. The dichotomy of his fractured personality is evident the most when he is alone. One moment he is dreaming of his mother, the next he is stalking the ghost of a Nazi murderer in the room where he sleeps (which is one of the most disturbing scenes in this film).
The 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. Heart wrenching from the first frame to the last and never equalled. To think this was all made in 1962! Shocking cinema at its very best.