Ivan’s Childhood

Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky

DoP: Vadim Yusov

Year: 1962

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Things To Consider

  • Debut features rarely come as assured as this, with a directorial voice and vision as clear as is evident in Ivan’s Childhood. What element’s in Ivan’s Childhood can we trace outward, throughout Tarkovsky’s career? Is there recurrent imagery? Approaches to blocking and shooting scenes? Tonal Qualities?
  • Ostensibly a war film, Tarkovsky wisely eschews any sort of genre expectation and focuses solely on the effects of war, and those effects seen through the eyes of young Ivan. Tarkovsky manages to find an austere beauty in the ruined buildings, the sparse bunkers and the otherworldly swamps.
  • While the subject is the Second World War, I can see Tarkovsky already dipping his toes into the Sci-fi genre. The whole world of Ivan’s Childhood seems just slightly off, and I think with a few minor cosmetic changes this film could easily be categorised as a Sci-Fi. Tarkovsky of course isn’t a genre filmmaker, instead he uses the tropes, the imagery and the expectations of a genre to explore more oblique and personal questions.
  • How does Tarkovsky approach shooting Ivan’s memories and dreams, and how do these representations contrast with his bleaker present? From the more idealised memories that open the film, Ivan’s memories slowly become infected with the other worldliness of the war. Take a look at the dream of the apple truck, the artifice of this scene isn’t hidden but in fact accentuated using negative projection.
  • I would encourage people to check out the work of Ingmar Bergman, as I think there is some evident influence afoot here. Bergman was fascinated with dream imagery and would later in his career start to play with some nightmarish war imagery that could be lifted from Ivan’s Childhood.

Further Research



Purchase U.S.

Purchase U.K.

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