Top positive review
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A Stunning Film Expertly Utilizing a Handful of Found Ingredients
on August 16, 2016
I recently ordered from Amazon, Tarkovsky's book "Sculpting in Time, " on his approach to filmmaking-- falling in love with the mixed metaphor and wanting to familiarize myself with the director that Ingmar Bergman considered the best. It just arrived, but I felt I should first view at least one of his films; so I selected his first, "Ivan's Childhood." I was awestruck by his ability to create incredible sets--scouting out natural environments and, of course, manipulating them to enhance the storyline, but not that much. He captures clumps of trees in forests, in bodies of water, water doing amazing things, vast numbers of apples and 2 siblings on a wagon, horses eating those apples on a beach near the sea, and on and on. An extraordinary backdrop in a black and white film is the forest of bare white birch with their black and white natural detail, precise lighting, creating a surprising burst of color in this bleak environment, as well as providing an exquisite sculptural installation. What a stage set for characters to weave in and out of! The camera work and lighting are brilliant-- close ups, deep and long shots, dream sequences, masterful feats of light and shadow. The lead, a wonderfully gifted 12 year old, Nikolai Burlyayev is a casting phenomenon. The storyline (about time!) tells of the Russian orphaned Ivan, who witnessed the murder of his family by the Nazis and is determined to avenge their deaths by becoming a soldier himself. He is adamant and highly persuasive that his small size puts him at great advantage for sneaking in and out of enemy lines. This film is a definite don't miss, but it's also very different, and, if by chance, you also want to keep learning as long as you live, check it out.