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Mirror

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky

U.S.S.R.| 1974. English subtitles. Colour. 106 min.


The film is a confession, said Tarkovsky of Mirror, an attempt to settle the debts to be paid to one’s parents, one’s children, one’s relations, one’s wife, if that is at all possible. It’s also about the link between individual memory and history; historical conflict expresses the general idea of the film, that of a state of love in suspense.
After a symbolic prologue in which the boy who is both Tarkovsky and his son, Ignat, watches a youth struggle to coherence on a television screen, Mirror plunges straight to the heart of its subject with the firwt of many scenes of the narrator’s mother waiting for her husband to come home. Balanced on a ramshackle fence, the woman gazes across a summer field while the camera, gliding behind her, suddenly discloses a distant figure as if she had planted him there herself in the tall grass…
Landscapes, history, and the recurring patterns of human lives-in Mirror Tarkovsky reflects on his themes once more. The security of the family home, as we suspected, is recognised as an illusion by Tarkovsky even as he indulges it. Repeatedly, the sought-for idyll turns to nightmare, battered by wind, fire and rain. Sudden gusts hurl table decorations to the floor, and flames either engulf, terrifyingly, the cabin next door, or flicker feebly into darkness. While the past is obsessively reactivated in the hope that somehow it can appease the present, the elements have no truce to offer. It’s as though family crises, too, are an inescapable part of the changing seasons.

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