Ivan's Childhood is built around the contrast between Ivan's idyllic dreams of his pre-war past and his grim wartime existence, and I wondered if maybe this structure would be a problem for Tarkovsky, whose visual style could be said to be all dream all the time. His shots are generally designed to feature some uncanny and beautiful element, while still maintaining the integrity of space and the legibility of the image.
But the effect is in fact quite beautiful. Working in an old-fashioned storytelling mode that he seemed eager to leave behind after this project, Tarkovsky is knowing enough to emphasize the surface divisions between fantasy and reality that make the conceit work, even if he remains committed at a deep level to the fantastic. For Tarkovsky, war is lights falling out of the sky.