Why Mirror? Some things one approaches with such a sense of temerity that it is almost impossible to write about them. I almost don't want to. I certainly can't get even close to doing the film justice. What words could?
Stream of consciousness? Stream of unconsciousness, more like.
Mirror: it's certainly not a film that can be appreciated on first viewing. The conscious mind's yakkety-yak, its irritable demands for narrative coherence, are too insistent. It is silenced and becalmed only in subsequent viewings, when the unconscious becomes attuned to a consistency that lies beyond narrative sequence.
Tarkovsky is never easy, but there's enough of a narrative premise in Solaris and Stalker to make them more immediately palatable than the seemingly inaccessible Mirror. At first glance, Mirror appears to be as smoothly impenetrable as the glass surface to which its title alludes. It reflects back to us our own confusions and frustrations.
Tarkovsky is never easy... Well, that's not quite true. He always said that children understood his films. Watching Mirror can be easy as breathing, as easy as dreaming. But, yes, breathing and dreaming can be hard. We need to catch the rhythm.
Tarkovsky invites us to see again (with a refreshed gaze, with a child's eyes) the simple but profound power, the wonder, of fire, water, wind. Why are the lingering shots of wind passing through the trees so poignant, so desperately moving? Because Tarkovsky's vision is of an immanent, impersonal, Spinozistic God, where God=Nature. Tarkovsky's spirituality is profoundly alien to the west's dualism: it is earthly, earthy, as cool and clear and material as the water his camera spends so long dwelling upon.
What is Mirror's logic? A logic of association, the logic of memory and the logic of dreams, a logic of doubling and correspondences. The same actress plays Alexei's mother and his wife --- suggesting what? Our compulsion to repeat, our tendency to see sameness where there is difference --- our lives are themselves mirrors (what are memories if not reflections?)
Sorry Andrei, sorry Luka, I repeat, I can't even begin to do Mirror justice. Too tired, too late, too inadequate.Posted by mark at February 18, 2004 12:53 AM | TrackBack