‘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.
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.