Soviet Film Wednesday: Mirror

Mirror Poster

Directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, and much like Norstein’s animation Tale of Tales, Mirror (ЗеркалоZerkalo) is another stream of consciousness film that strings together memories. The film is not meant to symbolize anything, but rather uses intuition as a means of expression. The main character, loosely based on Tarkovsky himself, is a dying poet contemplating his relationships with his wife, his mother, and his motherland, which creates a complex drama that drifts back and forth in time between his war-torn childhood and his adult life. The characters add a layer of complexity too, because several actors in the film play doubles; the main actress, Margarita Terekhova, plays both mother and wife. And to further elude things, the filming switches between color and monochrome.


Mirror is a very personal film for the director, as Tarkovsky also interlaces the poetry of his father in real life, Arseny Tarkovsky, into the film, and his wife also plays a character in Mirror. In his book Sculpting in Time, Tarkovsky revealed:

“As I began work on Mirror I found myself reflecting more and more that if you are serious about your work, then a film is not the next item in your career, it is an action which will affect the whole of your life. For I had made up my mind that in this film, for the first time, I would use the means of cinema to talk of all that was most precious to me, and do so directly, without playing any kinds of tricks.”

These personal touches and his unique filmmaking technique give the film a very intimate feel, which partly explains why Mirror is one of my favorite Tarkovsky films. Also because, like many of his films, every frame could be considered a work of art, and the way he layers movement on top of that is incredible. As an example of this, here is a few seconds of the beautiful levitation scene in Mirror.


The film is abundant with this kind of fascinating imagery and thoughtful drama. Mirror was made in 1975, was directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, written by Aleksandr Misharin and Andrei Tarkovsky, and stars Margarita Terekhova and Ignat Daniltsev.