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Andrei Tarkovsky — ‘Mirror’

Mir­ror’ is a beau­ti­ful, impen­e­tra­ble film. Direc­tor Andrei Tarkovsky crafts a nar­ra­tive that takes you between past, present, and future, dream­like, as mem­o­ry often feels. The sto­ry is a messy scrap­book of mem­o­ries, some near­ly past­ed atop one anoth­er, pro­duc­ing a col­lage of frag­ment­ed emo­tions. But to speak only of the sto­ry would over­look Tarkovsky’s accom­plish­ment as a direc­tor.

Ryland Walk­er Knight writes for Reverse Shot,

Mir­ror’s edit­ing per­forms an odd alche­my of mem­o­ry that pro­lif­er­ates iden­ti­ties as much as con­verges them. Like in a prism, or kalei­do­scope, mir­rors are every­where in the film (adorn­ing walls or reg­is­ter­ing in win­dows) for­ev­er mul­ti­ply­ing real­i­ties and planes, for­ev­er fur­ther­ing the refrac­tive inward reflec­tion, or med­i­ta­tion.

Tarkovsky focus­es not only on repeat­ed mis­takes in per­son­al life, but also in polit­i­cal life, high­light­ing con­flicts in Spain, Rus­sia, and Chi­na as the film pro­gress­es. There’s some­thing bit­ter­sweet about them, as though we’re trapped in a cycle of mis­takes that we’re doomed to repeat even when those mem­o­ries are still fresh in our minds.

If there’s one short­com­ing about ‘Mir­ror,’ it’s that Kino released it. Kino is often praised for exhum­ing and restor­ing obscure titles, which isn’t an inex­pen­sive thing to do. But they oper­ate as though no oth­er com­pa­ny is doing that work. For a com­plex film like ‘Mir­ror,’ it might help to have some­thing more than just the film itself. I’d be will­ing to over­look that if they paid more atten­tion to their trans­la­tions. There are moments in ‘Mir­ror’ where the view­er has to treat it like silent film while an entire exchange is omit­ted from the tran­script. Tarkovsky’s visu­al style makes up for some of those short­com­ings, but you can’t help but feel that some mean­ing has been lost.