Sunday, 21 July 2013

Ivan’s Childhood – Review # 1

Criterion Collection Spine # 397

Available in DVD and Blu-Ray

Special features:  
  • New high-definition digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Interview with film scholar Vida T. Johnson, coauthor of The Films of Andrei Tarkovsky: A Visual Fugue
  • New interviews with cinematographer Vadim Yusov and actor Nikolai Burlyaev
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Dina Iordanova; “Between Two Films,” an essay by Tarkovsky on Ivan’s Childhood; and “Ivan’s Willow,” a poem by the director’s father, Arseny Tarkovsky 
  • New cover by Neil Kellerhouse

What a fantastic way to start off my Criterion adventure.  Not only was Ivan’s Childhood my debut but also the Director of this film.  Andrei Tarkovsky announced himself to the world with this journey through war-torn Russia, set during WWII. 

Ivan’s Childhood follows a boy who, due to his young age and small size, is used by the Russian army to infiltrate enemy lines and carry out sabotage and reconnaissance missions.  It is after one of these missions that we are introduced to Ivan, a young Lieutenant called Galtsev and Captain Kholin, under whose command Ivan works.  Ivan and the Captain share a special relationship and Ivan is pleased to do his share for the Russian army. 

As the film progresses, and despite all the horrors he witnesses, we see Ivan desperate to stay with his comrades, to help his fellow Russians in the fight against Germany.  Captain Kholin has other ideas though and wants to send Ivan to Military School, keep him away from the immediate surrounding danger.  Circumstance dictates one final mission for Ivan and the Unit as they cross the river that separates them from the enemy.

For me the most poignant aspect of the film were the flashbacks shown throughout.  These were mainly of Ivan and his Mother, with the final one being with his Sister.  Carefree moments shared between a Mother, Child & Sibling, the type of moments that should fill a childhood.

Overall, Ivan’s Childhood is an excellent, realistic view of war through the eyes of a child.

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