For a movie about war, madness, and the soul-crunching boredom of life between battles (mostly spent in cramped rooms smoking endless cigarettes), Ivan’s Childhood is more profoundly interested in dry white trees, glistening streams, drops of water landing on a child’s fingertip, and the face of mother. Even in this, his first feature, we see that Andrei Tarkovsky is compelled by memories of precious things. Long after one forgets the plot, which basically details the final days in the life of a rough and tumble kid named Ivan (Kolya Burlyaev) whose so-called childhood is spent wanting to get back on the exciting front lines of a war, is a collage of his dreams, flashbacks, and some deliberately meandering dialogue scenes with fellow soldiers not much older than he is. When we think of Waiting For Godot, all we truly remember is the image of two tramps under a tree who continually hesitate. In much the same way, one might not recall a single line of dialogue here, even though there is much chatter (and Ivan is delightfully belligerent), but one will surely recall a flirtatious soldier, his legs straddling either side of an incredibly deep open trench, holding and kissing a woman he dangles over the precipice. While nothing in Ivan’s Childhood compares to even the tiniest detail of Tarkovsky’s later works, one can easily see why the virtuoso filmmaker still felt pride in this early achievement, saying, “It helped me form my views.”
- Shore International
- 95 min
- Andrei Tarkovsky
- Vladimir Bogomolov, Michael Papava
- Kolya Burlyaev, I Tarkoskaya, Valentin zubkov, Y. Zharikov
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