Monday, May 7, 2007

IVANOVO DETSTVO (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1962)

A feature film debut by the legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky. Ivan's Childhood is an anti-war film set in the period of World War 2. Like Apocalypse Now, the film delves deeper on the humanistic and philosophical aspect of the effects of war, than about war itself. In this case, it's about childhood and innocence lost at the cost of war.

The film opens with a scene of a boy(Ivan) looking at a spiderweb in the foreground, and it proceeds with Ivan wandering around a forest searching for something; his mother perhaps? Suddenly Ivan lifts off the ground and with laughter, literally glides across the forests. He finds his mother, smiled and ran towards her, and washes his face from the bucket of water that she carried. They exchanged smiles as her mother wiped the sweat off of her forehead. Then suddenly, Ivan wakes up in a stable, all dirty, and all alone. At this point, we know that the 'dream' sequence acts as a metaphor summing up the film's 'journey'. Tarkovsky intercuts the film numerous times with these 'dream' sequences(or perhaps glimpses of Ivan's memory?) to give a vision of the lost childhood life that Ivan could or should have had if there is no war, and consequently he would still have a family: her mother and her sister. Burning with revenge for his family's death, Ivan continually tries to convince his commanding officers to let him join the front line. So devastated and consumed by his loss and the war that surrounds him, Ivan is devoid of real emotions or personality; even for a child that he is.

There is no denying that Tarkovsky is a visual virtuoso. Beauty and poetry at the same time in every frame, with exceptional cinematography unsurpassed even now. Especially in terms of lighting and shadowing. There are countless images that stayed with me long after the film's over. And to add to that, Tarkovsky's many usage of 'dreamlike' sequences as metaphors reminded me most about Fellini who frequently applies the same technique in his films. Storywise, the film may lack focus or clear-cut goals, which equals to somewhat of a bore. But still, this is a fascinating work and a fine introduction to Tarkovsky's brilliance.

My Verdict: 4/5

October 9, 2006

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