Wednesday, September 1, 2010
While technically a war movie, Tarkovsky chooses to take a more abstract approach to the ravages of war in My Name is Ivan. We find a young Ivan moving between blissful reveries with his mother and sister by a minimalist lake shore to those where he is seen penetrating behind German lines during WWII, bringing back reconnaissance to numbered Soviet commanders.
The war scenes are presented realistically while the idyllic beach scenes are far more dream like, but in watching it again I'm not convinced the war scenes are real. Rather, a product of his imagination, especially the use of code in the beginning and the counting he does with the twigs, berries and seeds in the young lieutenant's office. I think Tarkovsky purposefully tried to keep the relationship between the conflicting images ambiguous, using marvelous camera work such as the scene where young Ivan drifts off to sleep and moves up a well in his dream to the image of he and his mother looking down a well.
You can see the influence Kalatozov had on Tarkovsky, as many scenes are reminiscent of The Cranes Are Flying and The Letter Never Sent. Apparently, Tarkovsky had approached Kalatozov's camera man Sergei Urusevsky to do the film, but the credit goes to Vadim Yusov.
Wonderful first feature length film that opened the door for Tarkovsky to a much wider audience. He had previously done a short film of Hemingway's The Killers (1958).