Mark Cunliffe 🇵🇸’s review published on Letterboxd:
OK, let's get the excuses out the way first. I haven't been sleeping well of late, and today was already a full and fun day with a day out round Liverpool and front row seats to see the Everyman Rep Company's production of The Sum. Plus a few drinks. Then it was the Doctor Who season finale, and all the excitement of a finale not being utter bin juice for a change and David Bradley popping up at the end as the First Doctor. Can't it be Christmas yet? And hey, this is only my second Tarkovsky...
Anyway, what I'm trying to say was I was probably too knackered and my mind was probably too involved elsewhere to fully appreciate what everyone else seems to universally acknowledge as a masterpiece. Which is why for much of the running time I looked rather likes this;
And then I got annoyed with myself for being like that. I should be able to get these things, right? I'm not saying I'm Alan Billy Big Bollocks Yentob or anything like that (again; this is only my second Tarkovsky. Like a dick, it's taken me 37 years to watch anything of his) but I'd like to think I had enough about me to get this. But it turns out Mirror's intention is to be incomprehensible, and then I breathed a sigh of relief.
What did strike me about Mirror and how it deals with memory in an organic, non linear way, is that it's very much like the kind of thing Terence Davies would go on to do over here (and I'm reassured by the fact that it took me two watches of Distant Voices, Still Lives to realise it was a masterpiece and Davies was a genius, so there's time for this yet I guess). But Davies used music to forge some kind of path through his work, whereas Tarkovsky here seems to be relying on newsreel footage. Intriguingly Tarkovsky considered music to be vitally important to how he structured film, obeying the laws of music as his organisational principle. It's a beautiful, but bewildering film....when you feel like you have a handle on it, it disappears like smoke or goes off down a completely unexpected path.
I like the comment film critic Antti Alanen made, describing it as a "space odyssey into the interior of the psyche". I like that because it reminds me of Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Like that film, I can appreciate how seminal it is, how technically accomplished and visually and aurally magnificent it is, but I can't understand it. And if I can't understand it, it places a barrier between me and the film itself. I can't love it and that's why I've rated it as I have done.
And now I'm going to bed.