De jeugd van Ivan
Andrei Tarkovski / SUHH, 1962 / 96 min.
Tarkovsky’s feature film debut premiered in the West at the Film Festival of Venice, where it proceeded to win the Lion d’Or. The highly engaged film, a personal testimony by a Russian child soldier, can now be seen in a new restoration.
The parents of the twelve-year-old Ivan have been murdered by the Nazis. Gripped by hatred, the child joins a group of partisans on the front to fight the enemy. Tarkovsky’s first feature film offers a perspective on WWII that was unfamiliar to Russian audiences. Rather than a conventional Soviet war film full of heroic feats of war, it is a deeply engaged and personal testimony.
Ivan is a Russian boy and at the same time a symbol for all children who are victims of war violence. It is a theme that is all too relevant today. Ivan’s Childhood (1962) made a deep impression because of its visual qualities, with the depiction of dreams playing a major role. The Soviet regime was less positive, as a result of which the film was virtually ignored and only released on a limited scale. Tarkovsky’s masterful debut can now be seen in a new restoration.
Russia, 2021: in the wake of Putin’s latest election victory, reforms seem further away than ever. How different things were in the late 1950s, when Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union’s new leader following the death of Stalin, gave an impulse for change. This period, which came to be known as the ‘thaw’, gave rise to classics such as Ballad of a Soldier (1959, Grigorii Chukhrai) and The Cranes Are Flying (1957, Michail Kalatozov); a new generation of filmmakers (Tarkovsky, Shepitko) also stepped into the spotlight.