Criterion Year Week 42: Ivan’s Childhood

The Criterion Collection, the last vestige of truly collectible DVD and Blu-Ray movies in existence. These are well produced, fancy pants editions of important and interesting films for the discerning film lover.

We continue our journey through Jim's collection of movies with...

Ivan's Childhood

Spine Number: 397

Director: Andrei Tarkovksy

Genre: Drama

Russia is a fascinating place. It is a total enigma to most of us in the west. Separated from the rest of the world by one of the most frozen, hostile wastelands imaginable everything about the place is completely foreign to us. Everything from language (including the alphabet), to the customs, to the culture... everything about this massive country is so completely different to that of the west that comparison seems almost impossible. All that most people seem to know is that it's cold, they drink vodka, and they produce ballet and chess players like nobody's business.

However, there are two areas that Russia does not receive the credit it should. First, the human sacrifice Russia made during World War II is so massive that it borders on incomprehensible. To put in in perspective....

80% of Russian males born in 1923 did not survive World War II.

80%. That is as close to a generation being wiped out as you can get. That is the type of number that causes a fundamental shift in the culture of a country.

WWII was won by British Intelligence, American Steel, and Russian blood. Damned near all of Russia's blood.

The second area... the importance of Russia to the development of modern film cannot be overstated. Almost everything about editing that is practiced today originated in Russia.

So... what happens when you combine the tragedy of WWII from Russia's point of view with their mastery of cinema...


To get directly to the point... Andrei Tarkovsky is a bad ass. He is the only filmmaker we will mention in the same breath as Kurosawa when it comes to visual mastery. His command of image is breathtaking on every level.

So, we begin with that, the absolutely breathtaking visuals of a certified genius and combine it with the unimaginable tragedy of WWII Russia, and not just the horror of war, but the horror of war from the point of view of a child, and you get one of the greatest debut features in the history of film.

This movie is a beautiful as it is heartbreaking. There isn't much more to say than that.

So, if you haven't watch it... do yourself a favor, and then join us as we discuss the reason why Russia is so much more hardcore than anyone else.


Next Week:

Spine number 422: The Last Emperor

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Right now check it out at

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Looks like Summer Movie League has officially become Fantasy Movie League.

It looks quite fun. Here's how it works.

You have an 8 screen theater.

Every week you pick movies and have a budget/salary cap you have to stay under.

Then you compete against other theaters in your league.

It's fantasy football for movie people.

Our league is Film Thugs 2015 and the password is Porterhouse.

And remember, you can be a part of the show any time you wild like. How's that? All you have to do is call or e-mail us. If you live in the US, or any place that makes calling the US easy, just dial 512-666-RANT and leave us a voicemail. We will read the Google Voice transcript and play your message. It's both funny AND informative.

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E-mail us at and we will read/play whatever you send us, or you can e-mail to be part of  an upcoming "Ask the Film Thugs" show, where we answer questions on any subject without having heard them first.

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Also, be sure to check back often for our new endeavor The Life Masters, where we answer questions to other advice columnists.

Thanks for listening, and until next week...

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