Mirror is Andrei Tarkovsky’s visually transcendent, artistically revelatory autobiographical film on lost innocence and emotional abandonment. Presented as a languidly paced, achronological cinematic montage of modern day life, personal memories, historical news footage, and dreams, Mirror is an introspective journey through the course of human existence, hope and despair, success and frailty: a television broadcast of a young man seemingly cured from stuttering through hypnosis; a neglected wife (Margarita Terekhova) humoring a village doctor who has lost his way; a custodial argument between a faceless narrator (Innokenty Smoktunovsky) and his ex-wife; a precocious young man trying the patience of his military instructor (Yuri Nazarov). To attempt to conform these images into some coherent plot or universal conclusion is meaningless. After all, Mirror is a reflection of Tarkovsky’s haunted soul: his search for spirituality, connection, Truth – exposed through indelible images that inevitably define our own imperfect lives, however trivial or mundane.
Andrei Tarkovsky deliberately obscures time by using the same actors to portray the two phases of the narrator’s life: the fatherless boy attempting to reach out to his distracted mother, and the distant father unable to relate to his self-absorbed son. Anachronistic newsreels of world events are interspersed to provide environmental reference and tonal shift. The structure of the film constantly evolves through the use of flashbacks and flash forwards, defined through chromatic shifts. This results in a film that is thematically cyclical, reflecting the narrator’s pattern of alienation and emotional isolation. The absence of logical order in the film elicits a visceral reaction from the audience: the knowledge that we have experienced truth in all its intoxicating beauty and desperate longing… and perhaps even a brief connection with the artist himself.
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