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A 12-year-old Russian orphan, because of his small size and ability to evade Nazi troops, works as a spy and a scout doing reconnaissance work for Soviet troops.
Director Andrei Tarkovsky has mixed daring with poetry in making this film: he shows the Soviet hero as an individual troubled with the doubts and complexities of other humans.
It was the caveat of the profound possibilities of eastern cinema, effectively heralding the discovery of one of the most perceptive minds to ever stand behind a movie camera.
The plot is straight out of the grayish, state-approved, thesis-tidy Ballad of a Soldier bin, but the landscapes and visions are Andrei Tarkovsky's and nobody else's
While the emotional weight of Ivan is clear from the first frames -- Tarkovsky doesn't stray from making us feel the pain of Ivan's world -- there is that sense of music the director is so intent on conveying.
Pairing [poetic] images with fragmented characters and Ivan's single-minded desire to get back in the fray, the result is disturbing and affecting.
Even in this, his first feature, we see that Andrei Tarkovsky is compelled by memories of precious things.
Beauty, poetry and sadness are certainly lodged in its brief dramatic span, to be seized and embraced by anybody who will give a compassionate mind to it.
It feels stylistically as fresh as if it had been made yesterday -- even to some very striking use of handheld camerawork. It's really something of a masterpiece.
Much more than a war film about a young boy, My Name Is Ivan is a pure film experience.
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