Blu-ray Review: Ivan’s Childhood

Andrei Tarkovsky is undoubtedly one of the greatest filmmakers of all time. His genius and mastery of the cinematic medium has rarely been surpassed. Whilst his films, such as Stalker, Solaris and Ivan’s Childhood are much-loved by cinephiles around the world, the quality of the prints aren’t always that good. Thankfully, Curzon Artificial Eye are releasing all his films with new digital prints in cinemas, on Blu-ray and On Demand, hopefully inspiring a new generation of fans. Their first release is Ivan’s Childhood.

Set on the Eastern Front during World War II, Ivan Bondarev (Kolya Burlyaev) is a 12 year old boy working as a scout for the Russian army. After being apprehended by a Soviet soldier he’s presented to young Lieutenant Galtsev (Evgeniy Zharikov), who doesn’t believe his story at first. After the Germans killed his family, Ivan was taken under the wing of Lieutenant-Colonel Gryaznov (Nikolay Grinko) and Captain Kholin (Valentin Zubkov) who make use of his small size in reconnaissance missions.

Ivan’s Childhood is visually stunning. The countryside they’re operating in is ominously shrouded in gloom whilst the sparsity of their shelter is brought vividly to life. There’s a scene between Kholin and a young nurse called Masha (Valentina Malyavina) which is almost hypnotic. Tarkovsky deals with the futility and waste of war through the dead eyes of Ivan; a child whose only purpose in life is that of revenge. Ivan’s Childhood is a masterpiece of Russian cinema and a testimony to the pointlessness of combat.

Blu-ray Special Features:

  • Interview with composer Vyaaheslav Ovchinnikov

  • Interview with cinematographer Vadim Uso

  • Interview with actor Evgeniy Zharikov

  • Andrei Tarkovsky’s metaphysical dream scone: Selected scene commentary by psychoanalyst Mary Wild

  • 36-page booklet

Ivan’s Childhood is released on Blu-ray and On Demand by Curzon Artificial Eye on Monday.

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