Mirror (1974)

Andrei Tarkovsky drew on memories of a rural childhood before WWII for this personal, impressionistic and unconventional film poem.

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Alternative titles

  • Zerkalo Original
  • A White White Day... Alternative


“Mirror is so hypnotic that questions of the film’s alleged impenetrability dissolve under the impact of moment after moment of the most visually stunning, rhythmically captivating filmmaking imaginable.”
Maximilian Le Cain, www.sensesofcinema.com, 2002

For perhaps his most daring experimentation with film structure, Andrei Tarkovsky intersperses scenes from three eras – a childhood in the countryside, the Great War, and post-war maturity – to create a prismatic reflection of his own life and those of his parents.

Abandoning linear narrative in favour of dramatising discontinuous shards of memory (particularly relating to his mother Maria, played by Margarita Terekhova), Tarkovsky pioneered a poetic and richly allusive form. Wartime newsreel footage, self-consciously painterly compositions, indelible imagery (a field whipped suddenly by wind, a gas lantern flickering out), and the director’s mesmeric camera movements combine to create a work of cumulative, rhythmic effect. The soundtrack features music by Bach, and Tarkovsky’s father Arseny Tarkovsky reading from his own poetry.

Guy Maddin’s My Winnipeg (2008) is a more recent, similarly mother-centred and dreamlike stream-of-consciousness about the director’s experiences growing up in Ontario.

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