Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Ivan (1932)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Ivan (1932, Soviet Union) (aka Иван)

In Ukrainian director/writer Aleksandr Dovzhenko's propagandistic Stalinist drama, his first sound film and one of his greatest works of cinema, a treatise about collective work during the Soviet Union's era of industrialization:

  • the opening - a poetic, lush and visual sequence of a river reflecting trees and the sky, placid and beautiful - but capped with views of cascading and churning water (to be harnessed by a power-generating, ecologically-unfriendly dam)
  • the film's main plot: the construction of a huge hydro-electric dam on the Dnieper River
  • the main characters - a Ukrainian peasant family composed of stubbornly-proud, bearded illiterate father Stepan Iosovich Guba, the Idler (Stepan Shkurat), and his unschooled teenaged farm boy son Ivan (Konstantin Bondarevsky) - a personification of optimistic country youth, who were both forced to leave their rural agricultural village to work on the construction project; however, contemptuous slacker Stepan refused to join in the construction work - he preferred fishing from a scaffolding platform-plank at the site
  • meanwhile, Ivan was transformed into a physically-strong, hard-working and dutiful socialist worker, although he was reprimanded for his shoddy work; he eventually realized that his physical might was limited - and that he needed to be trained and educated
  • the sequence of the death of another young Communist League construction worker (coincidentally also named Ivan), whose grieving mother (Elena Golik) helped to cover over the corpse
  • in the film's most audacious sequence, the distressed mother resolutely fled through the site (filmed at a low angle and viewed as a gauntlet), among ominous cranes, transport trains and other threatening forms of machinery to the office of the construction manager - where she was seen flinging open ten sets of double doors in a series of startling jump-cuts; in his inner office, she overheard the angry manager on the phone speaking to a subordinate about the lethal accident caused by negligence and careless inspections; when finished with his call, he asked the mother what she was there for, and she responded: "Nothing"
Distressed Grieving Mother
Mother Entering Office of Construction Manager
Construction Manager on Phone
  • the dramatic scene of Stepan's lecturing of everyone in a public Communist Party meeting - and his repudiation of his role as the father of a conforming working-class son: "Am I the father or am I not? I am a unique individual! I do not want such a son, and declare that I repudiate him"; when his words fell on deaf ears, he was laughed out of the auditorium and his son denounced his shirking father (even declaring that he was ashamed to have been born in the same village); the bereaved mother of the dead worker also spoke to the assembled workers
  • in the film's conclusion, Ivan took his seat among his comrades in a university classroom, as the film faded to black on a close-up of him ready to learn from his professors

Opening Views

Father Stepan Fishing

Son Ivan - Strong Socialist Worker

Stepan's Lecture to Communist Party Meeting - Repudiated

Ivan Joining Socialist Comrades in Classroom


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