DirkH’s review published on Letterboxd:
Film #7 of Make me watch your favourite.
Whenever I wake up from a half remembered dream I always wish I could go back and explore just what my subconscious was trying to tell me, or come to terms with. With Tarkovsky's The Mirror, which felt like just that, a waking dream, I had the luxury of revisiting it. And that I did. After finishing it I immediately watched it again. It is a film deserving of multiple watches, it needs it to come to terms with its architecture, to distill any meaning from it.
Before I watch this again, which I most definitely will, I will need to do more research as I know next to nothing about Tarkovsky and his life. I feel I need to do this as there are undeniably strong biographical elements in it, not to mention historical and cultural references.
So what is left for me on these two viewings is my primal response out of ignorance. And even then the way this film conjures up a resonance with its audience is astounding. This dream about life feels like an ode to the living world, to nature and to art. One of the few things I do know about Tarkovsky is that he is influenced by Dostoyevsky and what I know about him is that he renounced the materialistic world without faith and religion. This shared sentiment hasn't produced a religious film, but certainly a spiritual one. It is a rumination on family and memories and their place in life in its totality.
Nature plays an important part in the visual palette of the film. There is a predominance in the way Tarkovsky pushes forward landscapes and scenery. It encompasses, embraces everything we see in The Mirror that is good and benevolent. It stands in sharp contrast with the haunting and jarring dream sequences we are given. The outside, natural world is a far nicer place than the cold recesses of the human subconscious.
It is difficult to do the experience of watching this any justice. The structure, with linked leaps through time, makes no sense yet it feels logical. Tarkovsky navigates fluidly through the life of one man, an everyman, coming together in a final scene that transcends time, generations and reality, the epitome of a perfect memory. Through him we learn all the secrets this film holds, secrets I am eager to discover again and again.
I loved The Mirror. With passion. It's oblique, but irresistibly intriguing. It is an amalgamation of art, poetry, painting, music, film, all treated with the greatest respect and helmed by a director who, with long lingering shots, forces you to study and think and who, with fluid dreamlike takes, makes you appreciate beauty in its purest form.
Can't wait to watch this again, with fresh eyes, new knowledge and getting a little wiser along the way.