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Cinema & The Arts as Sermons: Understanding Tarkovsky's Mirror

Updated: Jul 27, 2023


Understanding Tarkovsky's Mirror

"You mirrors: you pour out your beauty but your faces gather it back to themselves." Rainer Maria Wilke


"While each of Andrei Tarkovsky’s films are singular experiences in their own right, Mirror is by far the most experimental movie and, almost paradoxically, the most personal in the legendary Russian auteur’s body of work. Essentially a loose autobiography of its creator, Mirror flows effortlessly between the scattered memories of its protagonist Alexei, spanning his childhood in the countryside, his war-torn adolescence, and his troubled relationships between Alexei’s spouse, child, and mother in the present. Each memory is connected by surreal hallucinatory interludes, dreams by Alexei that then feed into his mother’s own dreams and memories, in addition to newsreel footage that span the length of modern Russian and World history as a whole. While the film is rooted in the memories of Alexei, writer-director Tarkovsky ties his main character’s emotional experience into his own, as well as a more collective national and global identity that is just as fractured and in need of recollection. To cap this off, the modern-day Alexei goes unseen throughout Mirror’s runtime, reframing Mirror as a first-person experience, one that Tarkovsky encourages us to take in as our own. Mirror boldly erases the formal and metaphysical boundaries between director, subject, and audience, creating a film about memory that feels as much lived by its viewers as it was by its creators.." from the article: Criterion Review: MIRROR (1975)


Tarkovsky's Mirror - Why This Shot Makes Me Cry

Video from The Projectionist

"Video essay on Andrei Tarkovsky's Mirror and his idea of "sculpting in time." Music: Casino Versus Japan - Aquarium Casino Versus Japan - Marilyn Set Me Free Boards of Canada - Olson Brian Eno - 2/2" from video introduction


TARKOVSKY'S MIRROR - Part 1: History and Development (Zerkalo / Зеркало)

Video from Plan-Sequence


The first part of an in-depth analysis of Tarkovsky's Mirror (Zerkalo / Зеркало), one of his most representative films and simultaneously one of his most elusive works. This first video deals with the film's long gestation, maturation and conception, as well as the reception in its time


TARKOVSKY'S MIRROR - Part 2: Plot and Essence (Zerkalo / Зеркало)

Video from Plan-Sequence


"In Part 2 of Zerkalo's in-depth analysis, we delve into the plot of the film, notable for its unconventional structure and dramaturgy, of various timeframes and lack of typical narrative features. The essence of the film is addressed as well, through Tarkovsky's own interpretation and explanation, in an attempt to make clear the purpose and meaning of the film." from video introduction


TARKOVSKY'S MIRROR - Part 3: Voice, Nature, Chekhov & Poetry (Zerkalo / Зеркало)

Video from Plan- Sequence


"Part 3 of the in-depth exploration of Tarkovsky's oneiric masterpiece Mirror (Zerkalo). An examination of the first quarter of the elements present in the first 15 minutes of the film, showcasing the wealth of content and interpretation amidst this grandiose cinematic art work. Arseny Tarkovsky - First Meetings: Every second of our time together We exulted, as if it were epiphany, We two alone in the world. Lighter And braver than a bird’s wing, You flew down the stairs Like dizziness, skipping half of them, Through wet lilacs into your realm On the other side of the mirror. When night fell, I was given a gift. The doors of the sanctuary opened: In the darkness, nakedness was lit And slowly bowed to the ground. And waking up, I said, “Blessed one,” Knowing that daring was my blessing: You slept, and the lilacs On the table leaned to touch your eyelids With the blue of the universe And those eyelids touched by the blue Were at peace, and your hand was warm. While in the crystal, rivers pulsed, Mountains smoked, seas dawned, And on your palm you held the crystal Sphere, and on the throne you slept, And — my God! — you were mine. You awakened, transfigured The day-to-day dictionary of man. Until full-throated force filled The neck of speech, and “thou” unveiled Its new meaning: “king of kings.” Everything in the world was new again, Even simple things — a jug, a basin — When the layered and solid water Stood watch between us like a guard. Something was leading us on. Built by miracle, cities leapt Like mirages before our vision. And mint bowed down beneath our feet, And birds hovered above our heads. And fish nosed against the river’s flow, And the sky unfurled above the land... While behind us, fate followed Like a madman with a razor in his hand.' from video introduction


TARKOVSKY'S MIRROR - Part 4: Fire, Epiphany, Silence & Words

Video from Plan - Sequence

"Part 4 of the in-depth exploration of Tarkovsky's oneiric masterpiece Mirror (Zerkalo). The use in film and Tarkovsky's personal experience with fire, the ambiguous religious context of the Epiphany, as well as the power of silence and intrinsic narrowness of words, are explored in this video that addresses some of the earliest scenes in the film." from video introduction


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