Movies We Like
The Mirror is absolutely the most poetic film I’ve seen. Andrei Tarkovsky, Russia’s famous director, sewed the film together like fragments, creating a loose, non-linear, autobiographical tale full of childhood memories. The film contains newsreel footage and poems by Tarkovsy’s father, Arseny Tarkovsky. It is a personal, unique film, now highly regarded as one of Tarkovsky’s best works and masterpieces. His work, often a struggle with the Soviet authorities, is well-realized and committed – he has only made seven feature films out of his 27 years as a filmmaker, and each one of them is finely crafted and boldly uncompromised. Here is one of my favorites.
The film begins with Alexei’s son Ignat. The film revolves around his thoughts and his world, and the narrator reads poems reminiscent of a man’s relationships with his mother, ex-wife, and son. The mother, Maria, is a proofreader in a printing press. She is first shown in the countryside during pre-World War II. The rural countryside is one of Tarkovsky’s landscapes – the homes and the land featured in the film are gorgeously drenched in nature, yet also contain an element of isolation. Tarkovsky’s use of nature refers to his childhood memory of war that caused many to evacuate Moscow to the countryside.
The human portrait is another landscape, and here the camera captures Maria, portrayed by actress Margarita Terekhova, in an astoundingly beautiful dreamlike manner. It is simply mesmerizing the way her hair is washed in a dream sequence, or filmed with a slow, trance-like camera push-in, towards the back of her head while she sits looking toward the countryside. The textures and colors of the film are so full and rich, it is hard not to feel as if you are sitting in the scene observing dreams and memories from the inside.
Tarkovsky is a master of the strong poetic image of water falling ever so slowly, in either outdoor or decaying indoor environments. The rest of this wonderful piece of cinema falls into a continuously stunning, rhythmic, ghostlike string of the human thought process.