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Russian New Wave film

– Balaji Thangapandian | BT

‘ In one hour, we are to taken out and shot.
Avenge us.’
– a quote from the film, which exemplifies the mood.

Andrei Tarkovsky, Russian born filmmaker, considered as a prophet, as he was instrumental in the emergence and sustenance of Russian new wave cinema.
Ivan’s Childhood was his first feature,  critically acclaimed, won Golden Lion at Venice Film Festival and Golden Gate at San Francisco International Film Festival in 1962. He died in 1986.


Ivan’s Childhood (Ivanovo Detstvo) isn’t a typical world war II film. The brutalities
and horrors of war are not explicitly shown. However, the intensities are subtly portrayed through emotions, and seldom through words.

A 12 year old orphan, Ivan, is desperate to cross the border lines of enemy on reconnaissance. He seamlessly does it, when he is assigned to do so, owing to his physical virtue. Sometimes, he gets caught, but, pleads Germans, and saves his life. He had peaceful existence with his family, until, they were killed. Ivan is not afraid of war, he does not want to rest during wartime as thinks useless people do. He had been in a death camp and experienced the cruelties of being a POW (prisoners of war). Therefore, his missions prevail.


Russian command doesn’t want Ivan to continue on scout mission, and insists on returning to military school as two of Russian scouts were captured and cruelly killed by Germans. They were left hanged near a signpost with welcome message. Ivan is persistent on spying Germans as he wants to avenge the perpetrators, responsible for his family’s death.


Eventually, Russia (allied forces) wins over Germany in World War II. Later, Russian comrades, who are emotionally bonded  with Ivan, on a raid into German imperial chambers, learns the tragic end of Ivan. He was captured and hanged, during a mission.

Andrei Tarkovsky’s, intelligence on filmmaking is witnessed, when he draws comparisons between Ivan’s war stricken existence and nostalgic moments of his childhood through metaphors. The film begins and ends with Ivan leading peaceful life, leaving the viewers heavy hearted on the profound impact of war on children.

The article is about: Ivan’s Childhood (1962), Andrei Tarkovsky, Russian Film, Russian New Wave film, Balaji Thangapandian.


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