David James’s review published on Letterboxd:
Even at this embryonic stage, Tarkovsky was a masterful painter of empathy and light. Inside a relatively more traditional structure, he conjures one of the most emotionally relatable pictures of war I've ever seen. I can see myself as Ivan, a young boy caught up in a war that already swallowed his family, and I can see my son in his place too, the sheer aching pull on my heart as I watch this child in the most wretched, dangerous places on earth. The movie lurches forward in almost episodic nature, punctuated by wonderous little glimpses into Ivan's dream life, the camera soaring through memories of his mother, crazed mixtures of prewar life and his current hell, and heavenly visions of a future that cannot come to pass. I felt loss and lost before the incredible final sequence, which launched my soul into the sky.