Tangled up in Blue: In the birch grove

In this scene from Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1962 film ‘Ivan’s Childhood,’ two characters kiss over a ravine in a birch forest.

In this scene from Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1962 film ‘Ivan’s Childhood,’ two characters kiss over a ravine in a birch forest.

I’m ready for the snow to melt. I don’t want my fellow winter recreation enthusiasts to hate me for saying this, but as Seward is being continually doused in drizzle, it’s hard for me to wish for more snow. I want it to get gone and stay gone.

This is a departure from last year, where I was holding on to every last bit of crust that I could ski on and crossing my fingers that Tsalteshi Trails could be groomed just a few more times.

This year I found myself on trails I’ve never skied before and putting a lot of miles on my skis. I can, quite easily, say that this winter has been kind to me. I spent long mornings skating along Bear Lake in Seward, a particularly sweaty afternoon pushing through the Tour of Anchorage and a too-recent-for-me-to-think-back-on-it-fondly day putzing through the 50-kilometer Oosik race on classic skis.

I’ve been skiing so much that I lost track of all the different column topics I came up with over the course of all these skis.

Like, when I was exploring the city trails during the Tour of Anchorage, I was blown away that I had never skied them before. We weaved throughout the city streets, over highways, along the coastline and up into Kincaid. Being unfamiliar with the city, I have no idea where we started and barely a clue where we ended, but enjoyed every bit of trail between those two destinations.

At some point along labyrinthine course, we skied through a beautiful birch grove and I was immediately transported to World War II era Russia.

There’s a 1962 Soviet Union war drama titled “Ivan’s Childhood” that follows the journey of a young orphan as the Soviet army clashes with the invading Germans.

I first saw the film in an introduction to a Russian cinema course I took in college. I thought it would be a one-off way to get four credits, but as I become further and further removed from college, I find myself falling back on the images I saw in that course.

Early Soviet cinema brought us revolutionary film ideas like the montage sequence, jump cuts and realism, but Andrei Tarkovsky, the director of “Ivan’s Childhood,” continued the forward momentum in the 1960s by creating a new language in his films.

He brought dramatic structure to the screen. He explored spirituality and metaphysicality. He wasn’t afraid to tell a slow story, take his time, or take long interludes in his film to showcase something beautiful.

“Ivan’s Childhood” is a film about war, but for 12 minutes in the first half the focus shifts. A general and his begrudging love interest escape to an isolated birch forest. The bright, white birch trees fill the shot as the couple weaves through the forest. The general finds himself rooted in a ravine, holding his love interest in his arms and forcing a kiss onto her while her feet dangle above the river.

It’s a beautiful scene. I adore the way the camera focuses on the pair as she is weightless in what could be a romantic moment. The reality though, and the reality of the entire film, is that this is war and her youth, beauty and naivete plants her in a moment she doesn’t want, but has to accept.

As I skied through the birch grove during the Tour of Anchorage, a sign cheered my fellow racers and I on. It said, “Enjoy this, it’s the most beautiful part,” and I agree because, well, birch trees are beautiful and Tarkovsky found a way to use that beauty to tell a dramatic reality.

It’d be nice to revisit some of his films, but that sounds like a winter activity and, like I said, I’m done with all this snow.

Kat Sorensen can be reached at ksorensen@peninsulaclarion.com

More in Sports

Oilers topple Glacier Pilots in opener

The Peninsula Oilers opened their season by defeating the Anchorage Glacier Pilots… Continue reading

Twins swept by Service

The American Legion Twins were swept in Anchorage by Service on Wednesday,… Continue reading

Twins open season by stopping Dimond

The American Legion Twins opened their season by topping Dimond 16-3 on… Continue reading

Oilers, Twins open seasons this week

The American Legion Twins and Peninsula Oilers open their 2023 seasons this… Continue reading

The Kenai River Brown Bears mob Ryan Finch after he scored the game-winning goal in overtime against the Janesville (Wisconsin) Jets on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023, at the Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Browns Bears announce commitments for Holt, Finch

The Kenai River Brown Bears recently announced college commitments for Ryan Finch… Continue reading

Morgan Aldridge leads riders down a hill at the start of Week 3 of the Soldotna Cycle Series on Thursday, July 18, 2019, at Tsalteshi Trails. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Sterling’s Aldridge wins Eagle River Duathlon

Sterling’s Morgan Aldridge won the women’s overall at the Eagle River Duathlon… Continue reading

Soldotna's Trenton Ohnemus delivers to Kenai Central in the Division II state championship game Saturday, June 4, 2023, at Wasilla High School in Wasilla, Alaska. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
SoHi tops Kenai to repeat as Division II state baseball champs

The Soldotna baseball team retained the Division II state title with a… Continue reading

Kenai, Soldotna baseball to face off for state title

The Kenai Central and Soldotna baseball teams will play for the Division… Continue reading

Kenai Central ends run at state softball tournament

The Kenai Central softball team ended its season with two losses Friday… Continue reading

Most Read