Saturday, January 25, 2014

Zerkalo (The Mirror) (1975)

Director: Andrei Tarkovsky
Writers:  Aleksandr Misharin, Andrei Tarkovsky
Cast:      Margarita Terekhova, Filipp Yankovsky, Ignat Daniltsev
Language:Russian

A dying man in 40s reminisces about his childhood, mother, war etc through dreams, flashbacks, archive footage and memories interspersed with poetry through his own voice. The film is loosely autobiographical as Tarkovsky himself was raised by his mother after his father left them when he was four. 

In his dreams he sees his ex-wife as his mother. As with people who are raised by their mothers, the relationship is complex and sometimes conflicted with the amount of control that tends to be exerted. One can also add Oedipus complex to this equation as well. The film covers pre-second world war period, war period, post war period and the contemporary era and we get a sense of Russian history through it. The News footage also covers things like Cultural revolution in China. There is also one reference to Russian isolation from the west due to the division in Christianity. 

Protagonists were forced to move from Moscow to their grandfather's house in the country due to war. The girls from his life comes frequently in his memories/dreams but most of the time anachronistically. The contemporary scenes are shot point of view and the film as a whole is a visual experience. Tarkovsky working in Russia didn't have any obligation that his films should make money and I guess only under such a circumstance would such films come out. This being a very personal film was not something the Soviet Authority was a fan of and it got a very limited number of screenings in Russia. It was also not allowed to compete at Cannes because they feared that it will win the top prize. I saw it for the first time about five years back and couldn't make much sense of it. This time round I found it to be more accessible and should be discovering new things when I revisit it again. It is a very difficult film to describe.

Rating: 4.5/5