Ivan's Childhood' DVD, Andrei Tarkovsky (1962), New & Sealed.
******Apoetic and moving masterpiece******
Time Out Magazine
Tarkovsky's book about cinema ('Sculpting in Time') reveals its author's theoretical ability to be purely negative. He's good at coming up with telling objections to opposing theories; but when it comes time to make positive assertions of his own, he doesn't do so and he doesn't candidly confess that he cannot do so; instead, he waffles.
He argues persuasively that cutting doesn't have the importance others attach to it, and that no amount or style of editing can turn limp footage into exciting footage. All very true. So what IS cutting good for? It's hard to tell, but I think Tarkovsky's short answer is 'nothing much'. The only positive assertion he can make is that every shot (EVERY shot!) should be complete in itself.
Many shots in 'Ivan's Childhood' are, and are consequently hard to forget: the falling-in-a-dream shot at the beginning, the bomb in the well, all those images of the marshy forest (especially the shot of the flare travelling in a distant arc above it), that incomprehensible bit with the horse and the apples. These images are hard to forget, but Tarkovsky's refusal to do anything - anything at all - with them, renders them pointless. There's less point or internal unity to this film than there is to 'Fantasia', which consists of seven semi-autonomous productions glued together, or 'Andrei Rublyov', Tarkovsky's masterful second feature, in which (as with 'Fantasia') the unit of meaning is the episode, not the individual image.
Anothing 'Sculpting in Time' says is that art's purpose (its only purpose) is to improve our souls and prepare them for the afterlife. On these terms, is 'Ivan's Childhood' successful? Since Tarkovsky means his criteria to be taken literally, the answer is no; take them metaphorically, and it's hard to see what he's talking about. But by sensible standards the film is a failure. We have wonderful material (in a sense, the film is ALL wonderful material) sitting there waiting for someone to turn it into a film.
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Nikolai Burlyayev .... Ivan
Valentin Zubkov .... Capt. Kholin
Yevgeni Zharikov .... Lt. Galtsev (as Ye. Zharikov)
Stepan Krylov .... Cpl. Katasonych
Nikolai Grinko .... Col. Gryaznov
Dmitri Milyutenko .... Old Man (as D. Milyutenko)
Valentina Malyavina .... Masha
Irma Raush .... Ivan's Mother
Andrei Konchalovsky .... Soldier
Coding: All Region Code / NTSC Format
Video: 4:3 Fullscreen
Audio: Dolby Digital / AC-3 / 5.1 Surround Sound
Subtitles: English / Chinese / Russian (All Removable)
Runtime: 95 mins.
Colour: Black & White