44 Films: Film 15 of 44: The Mirror (1975)
Film 15 of 44:
"The Mirror" (1975)
Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky.
Doing a project like 44 Films means that I'll see some "weird" stuff. And by weird I mean unfamiliar and unorthodox. The Mirror is that sort of film, from beginning to end. It's an untethered, non-linear look at the musings of Alexei, a dying poet in 1960's USSR. Like Gaspar Noe's Enter The Void, we are freed of the confines of time and space, and Tarkovsky lets us in on moments that are personal not just to his protagonist, but to his entire lifetime. We are carried back and forth between pre-war footage of simple Russian rural life, to wartime footage of battle and migrations, to post-war footage of a changed USSR. The style, pacing, heck even the genres switch just as erratically. At intervals, we experience dream sequences and listen to Tarkosvky's father recite poetry that we can keep up with intelligibly only so long. From then on, we can only just go with the journey. This is not everyone's film.
It is quite evident that Tarkovsky drew much of this film's inspiration from his own life. His early idyll life, the upending of the country during the war, and the effects still evident decades later. This is his contemplation on the profundity and transience of life. Mirror was the result of almost a decade of thinking, writing and re-drafting. The end product wasn't fully embraced during its time, but it has gained a tenacious following, and is now on almost every list of film classics. Sometimes, we have to listen and fall in line. And we have to depend on an epoch of cinephiles to tell us that this is the good stuff. I'd like to believe that they know what they're talking about. Plus, it really is a gorgeous, hypnotising work of art. Its entire running time was a novel experience, the type that tells you you're learning something important. It's an organic and tactile tribute to humanity. That makes it all worth it.