Thursday, January 04, 2007

The Mirror (1975)

[Requested by Jeff Duncanson. Sorry about this, Jeff.]

"Words can't express emotions. They're too inert."

Andrei Tarkovsky's ravishing memory piece, ironically, has proved elusive to my memory. (Having seen it two months ago isn't helping.) I remember enjoying the film. If I try, I can recall specific images -- the main character's mother standing by a window; a farmhouse on fire; a bird on a head; the recurring image of people turning their heads away from the camera; a pulsing spot on a man's head; a man with a suitcase crossing a field. Somehow, this vague and fragmentary recall seems approriate, as the film itself is a freeform collection of incidents and images that, strung together, add up to a life. It's a film about memory: about how what we remember (and what we choose to forget) can shape our life, about how we can recall the sins of our forebears even as we repeat them (note that the main character leaves his wife just as his father did), about how certain things can recur -- or seem to recur -- in our lives, about how we try to frame our own lives in relation to the goings-on in the larger world (the rise of Communism haunts Tarkovsky's narrative). It's its strengths as a ruminatory work that make it so damn difficult to pin down and properly evaluate, at least after a first viewing. I know there's more to say about this than what I've already said, and I know I can't say it right now. I also know that I'm going to have to rewatch this and see where that gets me. I say that like that's a bad thing.

"Everything will be all right."

Grade: B


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