Sunday, August 28, 2016

Ива́ново де́тство (Ivan's Childhood) (1962)

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Writers:  Vladimir Bogomolov, Mikhail Papav 
Cinematographer: Vadim Yusov
Cast: Kolya Burlyayev,  V. Zubkov, Ye. Zharikov, S. Krylov 
Language: Russian

The film tells the story of a young orphan boy and his experiences in world war two. It is based on Vladimir Bogomolov's short story 'Ivan'.

Even though the title and poster of the film might make you think of it as something in the mould of 'Come and See', it is not similar. Yes it does show the terrible things that come with wars, mainly through surreal dream like sequences about Ivan's childhood, but the film doesn't focus too much on that. Ivan is treated like a mythic character who comes in and out of the film. He is someone who is employed by the red army on a scouting/spying mission in enemy territory. His motivation is revenge against the 'Fritzs' for making him an orphan. He had been with the partisans previously.

The other characters in the film are the officers in the army who handles and take care of Ivan when he is back. Much of the story focuses on two of these officers, one is a captain and the other a lieutenant. It also involves a love triangle and a setpiece flirtation scene from which the above iconic image is taken. That whole scene is filmed in a mesmeric way.

Andrei Tarkovsky made his directorial debut with Ivan's Childhood. It won the Golden Lion at the Venice film festival and established Tarkovsky immediately as one of the main directors of the era. It is not a typical Tarkovsky film as it is quite straightforward. Tarkovsky later expressed his misgivings about some of the decisions he made for the film but it is a great watch nevertheless. It is cited by the likes of Ingmar Bergman, Kieslowski etc as a very influential film.

Rating: 4.5/5