We begin with Tarkovsky’s first feature length film, Ivan’s Childhood. It follows a twelve year old Ivan through the torn Soviet landscapes ravaged by war. He is hardened by the ugliness of war and has the demeanor of the saltiest war veteran one could find. He has seen far too much during his short existence and has gained the ability to compartmentalize his emotions in a way that is a sin against youthfulness. His loss of innocence is that of humanity’s and there will be no turning back for us as our sins are too great. As long as humanity exists we will be ravaged by conflict because of our disregard for human life and our willful sacrifice of youthful exuberance that can never be repented.
Tarkovsky’s camera rolls through the war torn landscapes capturing the atrocities of humanity while catching brief glimpses of that which is righteous in this world. The landscape is no place for a twelve year old boy and the frame compositions often attack Ivan from all directions. Tarkovsky shows glimpses of greatness to come as he creates an alienating and other-worldly landscape. These images don’t breathe and pulsate with the same rhythmic vibrations of his later work, but they do possess small doses of that modern mysticism of lands poisoned by the worst of humanity. The interesting dichotomy of these places is that war creates lands inhospitable and alien to human civilization, but war is the ultimate definer of humanity. It takes the crushing of the human spirit to kill any last remnants of innocence that would never allow human beings to create such landscapes, let alone occupy them and obtain a mastery of their ugliness. Only the birch trees know the truths of youthfulness, but they cannot articulate this to irrational human beings and are forced to merely sigh and dig deeper with their roots as they wait out yet another conflict carried out by these confusing creatures.
It is only in dreams that we can reclaim brief moments of innocence that betray our hardened outward façade. In dreams we can forgive the sins of mankind, properly grieve that which has been taken away all too abruptly, and reclaim our childlike innocence if only for a moment. There is no turning back for us now, the sins are too great and the damage can never be repaired. We were given the Earth but we were instilled with a fatal flaw residing just below our innocence. Once that flaw has been exposed to the world there will be no turning back as it bursts through the fragile shell of innocence forever shattering it in to uncountable fragments.
[notification type=”star”]88/100 - As long as humanity exists we will be ravaged by conflict because of our disregard for human life and our willful sacrifice of youthful exuberance that can never be repented. [/notification]