Andrei Tarkovsky Marathon Part II of III
Finally, the good version of Jojo Rabbit.
Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1962 debut Ivan’s Childhood operates its existence of World War II through a psychosis reality. Ivan, a young 12-year-old Russian spy, is depicted as on the surface, an ambitious and self-confident individual. Yet, he is disrupted by an imaginative piece in another part of his brain that emits these phenomenons which could either be dreams, memories or something more cumulative — it’s never specified intentionally. What is palpable, however, is that these ideas swarming around in Ivan’s head are those of a desire for peace, a wish for return, despite that the consciousness of his mind is imprisoned with this grueling thirst for vengeance.
On a visual level, this film goes through the roof when it comes to war dramas. Tarkovsky’s seamless blend of his unfamiliar handheld shots — which shine especially in the “dream” sequences — and his usual tender, sedated camerawork are a committed pair that help transpire the state of war into a more surrealist environment. The black-and-white aesthetic in Tarkovsky’s feature-length debut compliments the intentional shadow and profusely very dark/light imagery that’s often used as a heavy weight to a lot of the artistic value in the cinematography. The score prevails, as well, truly bringing the “thriller” side of the narrative to life. Tarkovsky has essentially personified a wholly rotten atmosphere that desperately requires the comfort of others, something Ivan stubbornly believes he doesn’t have but subconsciously knows he needs. To be completely masculine in a situation like this is impossible, as Tarkovsky suggests, and it shouldn’t be strived for even as a protective suit from death. The binding of interaction is all the clarity we have left when in the s**t of war.
The conscious tells minimal of what we truly desire but the subconscious can sometimes tell us all. War is destined to wipe the front-value innocence of any child away; what’s barely left of Ivan’s seems to be of these unconscious little grasps or snippets of a childhood most would call ideal. In this state though, in a time of international violence, Ivan’s consciousness was unfortunately more practical than the preferability of Ivan’s subconsciousness. Ivan was, in a way, mature because of this, but not as a benefit, more like a damnation.
“Ivan’s Childhood” is now available to stream on The Criterion Channel.