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The Mirror (rewatch)

Posted by martinteller on October 5, 2012

Jessica over at The Velvet Café recently published an editorial about movies that require multiple viewings to comprehend.  She’s pretty much against them, but I find them to be among the most engaging and intriguing.  Sometimes it’s not even about decoding the film and figuring it all out.  Sometimes it’s just about savoring the mystery.  I can enjoy not understanding what a film is trying to tell me.  It’s almost liberating, allowing me to absorb images and moods and all the little pieces for what they make me feel rather than worrying about what they mean.

The Mirror is such a movie.  I am sure many of the things I don’t understand about it (let’s pick one… what’s the significance of the black & white vs. color?) have very good explanations that would give me a sense of enlightenment if I were to figure them out, or have them explained to me.  But I’m in no rush.  I’ll watch it again, and maybe again, and so forth until I cease to get pleasure from either the discovering or the experiencing.  Because it’s an inviting film to me.  I’m captivated by its fluid sense of time, its internal echoes (mirrors both literal and figurative), its… mystery.  I could read up on it — I’m certain there are any number of scholarly analyses on it all the over the internet — but right now I’m basking in the not knowing.  Ignorance is bliss?  Maybe.  Bliss also comes from masterful camerawork and a series of arresting images, resonant moments, an autobiography laid out in dreams, timelines that bleed into each other, a father’s poetry, stock footage.  Through the hypnosis of cinema, a stuttering man finds his clear, true voice.  Expression of oneself and the history of oneself in impressionistic fragments.

I do admit, the confusion does get the best of me sometimes.  It’s not an entirely blissful experience.  But I will be back.  Give me a Blu-Ray with the beautiful restoration such remarkable visuals deserve.  And throw on a commentary track by someone smarter than me, and maybe I’ll unlock some of those mysteries.  Rating: Very Good (85)


5 Responses to “The Mirror (rewatch)”

  1. JamDenTel said

    I’ll just say that I think Margarita Terekhova’s performance all but defines the word “luminous”.

    • It is a captivating performance. Where do you put this film in Tarkovsky’s filmography? I’ve still got it below STALKER and NOSTALGHIA, and just about even with IVAN’S CHILDHOOD. I desperately need to revisit ANDREI RUBLEV, but still waiting for that long-rumored Criterion reissue.

      • JamDenTel said

        I recently “watched” Ivan’s Childhood, which is to say I didn’t pay enough attention, but what I saw didn’t quite thrill me. And Stalker and this aside, I haven’t seen a work of his in quite a while. Here’s my very rough ranking:

        The Mirror
        Andrei Rublev
        Ivan’s Childhood

        I haven’t seen Nostalghia or The Sacrifice.

  2. Jessica said

    One of the problems to me if I don’t understand what a film is about is that it often makes it much harder to engage with it. And if I’m not engaged, I’m very likely to fall asleep as I watch it, especially if the movie is on the slow side (which this kind of experimental, poetical movies often are.)

    But it’s really not black or white. When I write this kind of editorials I tend to emphasize the inherent conflict because it makes for a more fun read, something that can inspire people to think and react (which this piece obviously did).

    • Yes, you’re definitely doing something right to get the response you get! And thank you for responding here!

      It’s not black or white, it’s very much a case-by-case basis. Certainly not every “difficult” film intrigues me. Straub and Huillet make incomprehensible films that don’t engage me in the slightest. Some movies I don’t understand and leave me annoyed… sometimes because I feel the director is trying to say something but burying it too deeply, or sometimes because I feel the director is just being too coy and cute with obfuscation.

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