Review: Andrei Tarkovsky's 'Mirror' a Remarkably Singular Accomplishment

by Greg Vellante

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Saturday July 24, 2021

It's incredibly difficult to accurately apply concrete definitions to the films of Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, and it's even harder to recommend them. His 1975 effort "Mirror" is among one of his most confounding works. Loosely autobiographical, unconventional in narrative design, and remarkably singular, the film utilizes poetry read by Tarkovsky's father, visual recreations of childhood memories, stream-of-consciousness storytelling, newsreel footage, and so much more to craft something unlike anything you may have ever encountered before.

Dismissed by critics upon its initial release for its ambitious, challenging structure, yet eventually reclaimed as a staple of cinematic history, "Mirror" has now arrived on The Criterion Collection in a new 2K digital restoration.

The film depicts the life of Alexei (Ignat Daniltsev) as a child, adolescent, and forty-year-old adult. Non-chronological, and highly unusual at times, the film draws upon Tarkovsky's own childhood experiences, such as his evacuation from Moscow to the countryside during the war, his relationship with his parents, his career, and more. Dreamlike and powerful, and beyond traditional descriptors, "Mirror" is a deep pool of cinema that positions you on the high dive and dares you to take the plunge.

If you do and you find the experience rewarding, this Criterion release features not one, not two, but three documentaries related to Tarkovsky and "Mirror." These include "Andrei Tarkovsky: A Cinema Prayer," which was made by Tarkovsky's son; "The Dream in the Mirror" by Louise Milne and Sean Martin; and "Islands: Georgy Rerberg," about the film's cinematographer. Additional bonus features on the Criterion Blu-ray include:

•New interview with composer Eduard Artemyev
•Archival interviews with Tarkovsky and screenwriter Alexander Misharin
•New English subtitle translation
•An essay by critic Carmen Gray and the1968 film proposal and literary script by Tarkovsky and Misharin that they ultimately developed into the film

"Mirror" is now available on The Criterion Collection Blu-ray for the suggested retail price of $31.96