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Logline: During World War II, a twelve year old boy works as a spy on the eastern front to collect information about the Germans.

Review: One of cinema’s greatest poets was the Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky who created meditative, existentialist works that viewers find either deeply compelling or incredibly boring.  Tarkovsky’s first feature, Ivan’s Childhood is his most accessible and it is absolutely stunning.

As far as the war genre is concerned, I prefer films that focus on the effects of the war on the individual rather than combat films.  In Ivan’s Childhood, we see the war from the unique perspective of a boy whose childhood has been taken away.  The film’s images linger in the mind; a forest filled with birch trees and Ivan walking through a war-torn wasteland.  These images make up the fabric of a visually stunning film.

Like other great filmmakers, Tarkovsky is an intensely visual filmmaker and his genius is evident from the start.  Childhood and memory, both major themes in Ivan’s Childhood, would become major thematic concerns for the director throughout his career.  “The most beautiful memories are those of childhood,” Tarkovsky once noted.

Ivan’s Childhood is a beautiful and poetic film that serves as a great introduction to Tarkovsky’s body of work even though it is faster paced and more accessible than his subsequent films.

Great scene: Beautiful…

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