Mirror / Зеркало

Tarkovsky was famously fun at parties

MAYBE

Release date: March 7, 1975
Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Language: Russian, Spanish

Who should watch this movie: Photographers. Poets. People who like lengthy discussions about film theory. 

When should you watch this movie: When you’re awake, alert, and focused. When you’re wine drunk on a Wednesday. Seriously, it must be one of these and no other time. 

The sell: We are all familiar with the film essay. In Mirror, Tarkovsky presents us with a film poem. Rather than exploring a theme or idea, this film explores feeling. When you look up information on Mirror, most sources agree that the film is a non-chronological autobiography, presenting surreal vignettes from Tarkovsky’s memory. Supposedly, Tarkovsky appears at various stages of life, sometimes an adult voice behind the camera and sometimes a child in front of the camera. However, none of this is readily apparent upon first viewing. Nor is it clear upon second viewing without supplementary reading. This is not a nonlinear narrative, it’s simply no narrative at all. Scenes come and go without explanation, interspersed with poetry (written and ready by Tarkovsky’s father). Most of the scenes feature actress Margarita Terekhova, who is sometimes a mother, sometimes a wife, sometimes both, and sometimes neither. Some moments she is laughing, and others she is hysterical. These mercurial moods are mirrored (hah) by her surroundings, shifting between color palettes (including black and white), and from countryside to city. While none of this “makes sense” in a conventional sense, it is – to use a tired word – evocative. Tarkovsky effectively captures gorgeous mood, atmosphere, and emotion in every. single. shot. Melancholic but not depressing, nostalgic but not sentimental, each frame contains endless depth and nuance. After watching Mirror, you may not know what you’ve seen but you’ll know you’ve seen something beautiful. 

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