MIRROR directed by Andrei Tarkovsky (Russia, 1975)

Tarkovsky’s movie is an enigma without solution – a poetic reflection on memory, regret and death that has no defined beginning, middle or ending.

It’s power rests on the dream-like visuals  where recurring images of  wind, fire and water appear to be deeply symbolic but remain open to interpretation.

We see wartime newsreel footage, hear music by Bach, the voice of a hidden narrator and poetry read  by Tarkovsky’s father. It spans three different time periods with no obvious link or linear narrative to connect the scenes.


Andrei Tarkovsky

I can easily imagine one set of viewers seeing this as a series of reflections of a spiritual journey while another group would argue that it depicts a god-less universe.

The dying man at the end says he wants to be left alone as he holds a tiny bird in his hand.

Does this represent the fragility of being or the impossibility of freedom?

Everyone will have their own views and therein lies its enduring appeal . It is one of three Tarkovsky films in the BFI/Sight & Sound list of the greatest movies of all time and , at number 19, is the highest ranked.

The whole effect is baffling and not a little infuriating but at the end, my first thought was not that I had wasted 90 minutes of my life but that I could happily watch the whole thing again. Such is the magic and mystery of cinema.