Ivan’s Childhood (1962)

Ivan's Childhood Movie Review

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Ivan’s Childhood Movie Review

Ivan’s Childhood is a 1962 Russian war drama film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. It is a very good directorial debut for Tarkovsky.

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If a well is really deep,

you can see a star down there

even in the middle of a sunny day

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Ivan's Childhood Movie Review

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The story isn’t particularly original as contrasting the innocence of childhood with the horrors of war has been done before. ‘Forbidden Games’ has already done that exactly a decade ago from this film. But why this film is better than the aforementioned French film lies in its approach and execution which is as good as it could have been.

The story is well told, the film is dramatic and also quite atmospheric at times. The ending is striking and quite tragic and the use of flashbacks is put to some pretty good use here and isn’t as annoying as usual as I dislike that approach for the most part. But here that structure is solidly organized and the film flows really well apart from a couple of more boring sequences.

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Ivan's Childhood Movie Review

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Where the film fails is in the titular protagonist. Ivan is an unlikable brat, at least that’s how I saw him. If he was more likable, his eventual death would have been much more tragic to me. And all of the other characters aren’t all that well developed expect for Galtsev who is solid. But Masha’s role isn’t clear here. Maybe he wanted to portray how difficult it must have been for women in the army back then, but that entire sequence with her in the woods was well realized and interesting, but not that important in the context of the overall story.

But the acting is very good and everyone did a really nice job in their roles. Nikolai Burlyaev did such a good job at such a young age, he delivered a very strong performance in a pretty demanding role. As for Tarkovsky himself, this is one competent debut, there is no denying that. What I liked about Ivan’s Childhood is that it is less pretentious and artistic than his later films and that was good. It is much more straightforward and engaging than usual for the director.

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Ivan's Childhood Movie Review

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Ivan’s Childhood’s biggest strength has to be the cinematography which is amazing. The film is so beautifully shot that it is one of the finest looking black and white films of the sixties for sure. The sets are intriguing and well utilized and the black and white photography is stark and artistic. Some of the imagery such as the woods and especially the boat sequence near the end were striking and unforgettable. The camera movements and shots here are so polished. So the film is mostly style over substance, but it has a well told story and some great dramatic sequences so it succeeds as a pretty good debut for Tarkovsky.

Ivan’s Childhood has a couple of unnecessary sequences and the titular protagonist isn’t as likable as he should have been, but this is a very good debut for Tarkovsky as Nikolai Burlyaev delivered a very strong performance, the story is well told and pleasantly straightforward and the film is so beautifully shot with some striking imagery and its exquisite visual quality is surely its standout aspect.

My Rating – 4

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Posted in Drama, FILM DECADES, Foreign, MOVIE REVIEWS, Russian, War and tagged , , , , , , , .

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