Ivan's Childhood

Ivan’s Childhood is the story of a childhood dismembered.

Twelve-year-old Ivan is a scout for the Russian army, working perilous missions on the Eastern Front. He is world-weary and capable, but still subject to childish whims and haunted by fantasies of a different, more carefree life. 

Andrei Tarkovsky’s film is built around a stark contrast.

Repeatedly, it switches between the dark, crumbling hellscape of the Eastern Front and sunlit, poetic world of Ivan's dreams and memories.

A poignant vision of Ivan's tenacious innocence emerges from their juxtaposition.

In this, his first full-length film, Tarkovsky’s camera glides and swerves, bringing mesmerising and poetic images into view.

 

This cinematic ingenuity is all in the cause of bringing us closer to the lives of the film’s characters. 

Asked about its evocative lyricism, Tarkovsky said:

“Poetic links seem to me perfectly appropriate to the potential of cinema as the most truthful and poetic of art forms … The pattern of life is far more poetic than it is sometimes represented by the determined advocates of naturalism.”  

In spite of the harshness of its subject matter, Ivan’s Childhood is a film of peculiarly articulate and resonant beauty.

Don't take our word for it: Jean-Paul Sartre called it “one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen”.

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