Monday 26 March 2012

The Mirror (Zerkalo) [1975]

Made between two of his most renowned arthouse masterpieces, viz. Solaris and Stalker, The Mirror ranks among the most acclaimed as well as inaccessible movies of Russian maestro Andrei Tarkovsky. This unabashedly experimental and deeply personal film was Tarkovsky’s haunting meditation on such themes as memory, childhood and Russia’s history. Leisurely paced, and shot using such avant-garde techniques as regularly changing from colour to black-and-white and vice-versa, and interjecting the flow of the largely stream-of-consciousness narrative with abstruse poetry as well as montages documenting Russia’s political past, the film chronicles the shifting (and at times unreliable) memory of the protagonist’s growing up in the countryside and his feeble attempts at coming to terms with memories of his childhood days and his mother. This is a technically and psychologically complex film comprising of multi-layered narrative, not made any easy by the shifting perspectives and the director’s opting for a more rambling approach as opposed to a more structured storytelling – consequently, the film requires certain minimum effort on the viewers’ front despite the concise length. However, the difficulty that one might face at times in fully comprehending all the details notwithstanding, I was both intrigued and interested by what was transpiring on the screen – the philosophical tone and content, coupled with the excellent photography, the rhythmic flow, and a number of brilliantly conjured cinematic moments, made this a unique viewing experience. And the strikingly beautiful Margarita Terekhova gave startling turns in the double role as the narrator’s mother as well as his wife.

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Genre: Drama/Psychological Drama/Avant-Garde/ Experimental Film
Language: Russian
Country: Russia (erstwhile Soviet Union)

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