The Mirror (1975)

Zerkalo or The Mirror is a Russian Art-House film from the mind of Andrei Tarkovsky. It is a highly regarded film and the only reason I decide to watch it was that it was on the Sight & Sound poll in 2012. It you want to watch it right away it’s on YouTube and can be found pretty easily. Spoilers might follow, perhaps.

Now this film is a bit confusing as it is a nonlinear story told by a dying man sort of reminiscing about his life. There are three specific time periods in the film the man as a child prewar (1935), an adolescent during the war (40s) and post war when he is about 40 sometime in the 60s or 70s. These era are distinct and the film also switches between color, sepia and black and white throughout, perhaps like memories. It borrows heavily from Tarkovsky’s own childhood. I find the film to be a reflection on life as a whole, sure we have the Russian elements but there is the universal commentary on life itself. The title give us the most about the film it is a reflection of life so after you watch it multiple times will get something more out of it. Perhaps this is way so many people have liked this film for so long.   Perhaps Ingmar Bergman put it the best when he said “Tarkovsky for me is the greatest (director), the one who invented a new language, true to the nature of film, as it captures life as a reflection, life as a dream.” Life is a dream and is a reflection of society as a whole. We are the mirrors for each other as we all put on our best selves for others this sound like something that Paul Dunbar says in his poem We wear the mask.

If you haven’t watched anything by Tarkovsky perhaps this isn’t the best film to begin with. I have heard Andrei Rublev and Solaris are also great films by Andrei Tarkovsky and might be better places to start as those film have plots and are coherent. However, I would highly recommend going out of your comfort zone and watching a Russian film.


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