Mirror (1975)

mirror poster 1975 movie
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking movie

Feels like a personal poem and understanding it is unattainable

Movie Info

Movie Name: Mirror

Studio: Mosfilm

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s): March 7, 1975

MPAA Rating: Not Rated

mirror margarite terkhova

A mother’s work is never done

Aleksei (Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy) has led a challenging life.  As he faces a terminal disease, he reflects on his life.  He remembers his childhood and fleeing from the war while being raised by his single mother Natalya (Margarite Terekhova), but he finds the past blending with the present in the form of his ex-wife (Margarita Terekhova) and the strained relationship with his mother (Maria Vishnyakova) while trying to connect with his own son Ignat (Ignat Daniltsev).

Written and directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, Mirror (Зеркало or Zerkalo) is a Russian biographical drama.  Following Tarkovsky’s Solaris in 1972, the film was originally met with mixed reviewed but gained a following and is often listed as one of the best films of all-time.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #1084).

mirror barn fire scene

Cue The Talking Heads:
“Burning down the barn!!!”

I got on a Tarkovsky kick.  I hadn’t managed to sit through all of Solaris (probably his most accessible movie) but finally pounded it out and moved on to his other films.  While Solaris is probably my least favorite, Tarkovsky is tricky in that a lot of what makes his movies is the spectacle and the visuals.  Those who claim to understand what is happening throughout a Tarkovsky film are probably full of it…and Mirror might be the best example of that.

The movie plays out like a fever dream.  Much like something like Mulholland Dr., the movie is rooted in reality but jumps around and has to be pieced together by the viewer.  The most significant scenes (in storytelling sense) probably involve the diagnosis of the fatal disease near the end and the basic reference that he remembers his mother’s face as his wife’s face when he thinks of the past…it doesn’t clear up everything happening, but it does help streamline some of the movie which is largely clips and nuances of a life and a reflection (probably lending that idea to the title).  Mirrors are reflections but also a way to look at one’s self…they aren’t quite you, but they are as you can get.

mirror hair washing the ring

Feels like The Ring took a look at this scene…

The cast is good and largely held by Margarita Terekhova who has the role of Alexei’s mother and former wife.  The mother version of Terekhova is tired and doing what she can for her children while the wife version of Terekhova is also tired with Alexei but more so in his continuous teetering relationship with his son and his mother.  An older version of Alexei’s mother is played by Tarkovsky’s real mother Maria Vishnyakova.  Another dual role is played by Ignat Daniltsev who plays Alexei’s son and the young adult Alexei in his views of the past…also enforcing the idea that you see yourself in your children.

Regardless what you think of Tarkovsky’s films, they are visually stunning and give an ethereal feel to the whole movie…they are memories so they essentially are ethereal.  Shot of the burning barn in the rain and the windswept field (created by a helicopter off screen) are combined with newsreels and black-and-white footage.  The purpose of that use of material is open to debate, but the idea that a lot of what you perceive as memory might just be regurgitated imagery that has become part of your past is a potential idea…you make things like news clips and recordings a part of your own past as the dominate memory of an event or moment in time.

mirror levitation bed

There is no Dana, only Zuul!!!

Mirror largely could be written off as nonsense and egotistical, but it is a reflexive ego of a person who really feels like they are trying to explore their past.  The movie sometimes feels like something like Sans Soleil with the narration and visuals but then can even feel like something from The Ring…but it all feels like Tarkovsky is thinking.  Through Alexei, it feels like Andrei Tarkovsky is genuinely trying to figure out what makes himself tick.  The thinly veiled comparisons between the characters’ lives and Tarkovsky have Mirror coming off as an introspective psychoanalysis…and as a viewer, it probably is never 100% accessible in that sense…it is a personal poem from Tarkovsky to Tarkovsky and he just let everyone see it.  Tarkovsky followed Mirror with Stalker in 1979.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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