Dirk Diggler’s review published on Letterboxd:
A devastating, poetic and heart-wrenching depiction of war and loss of innocence. There are no battle scenes, all we experience is the consequences of war: one moment Ivan is taking or making commands and works like a soldier, the next he's dreaming of his childhood with his mother. Its a very simple film, but there's such a strength and power underneath because of the direction, cinematography and its atmosphere. The shot of Ivan sleeping with the camera then sweeping away and looking up the well, where Ivan and his mother are standing, was one of the most beautiful dream transitions i've seen. But there are endless beautiful and haunting moments in this film, especially the low-angle kiss shot, Ivan becoming the ghost of a Nazi, the scene where they sneak Ivan across the river, and the hypnotizing ending. It's so heartbreaking seeing the effects of war on such a young boy, the shell shock and loss of innocence, and Nikolay Burlyaev nails every bit of emotion. I can finally experience what the fuss is about, Tarkovsky is a master. Absolutely sublime debut, what a flex.