February 18, 2004



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

mark, you make a living talking about the great philosophers, if you can manage that i think you can manage to talk about tarkovsky without curling up in a ball and wailing i'm not worthy. that was a good start, ditch the reverence and carry on. you'll like this actually, i woke up this morning with more of an appreciation of the film as if my mind had been working on it while i was asleep. as i was lying in bed, half awake half dreaming, i saw some of the threads, the fire and the wind, i don't remember much water to be honest with you, but i got more of a sense of how it was pieced together so i get where you're coming from. finish this tonight.

Posted by: luke at February 18, 2004 10:03 AM

and thinking about it i remember some water bits too, like where shes washing her hair at the beginning, when shes in the printing works shower etc etc

Posted by: luke at February 18, 2004 01:35 PM

I'm not sure I can't add much more without seeing it again ---- last time I saw it I remember being totally hypnotized by it ---- it's not reverence so much as a desire to maintain fidelity with that experience, to not betray it with crass words.

What I would say is, give it a while and watch it again, I think you'll be entranced too.

Posted by: mark k-punk at February 18, 2004 05:16 PM