Monday, December 29, 2008

"Mirror" (Tarkovsky, 1974) -- What Went Wrong?

As some of you might already know, I am the biggest Tarkovsky fan there is. I think that "Staker" is the best movie ever made, followed closely by "Rublyov", and then by "Solaris". I also like "Nostalghia" a lot, as well as "Ivan' childhood".

In my explorations of Tarkovsky's opus, I somehow left watching the "Mirror" for later. Sort of like saving the best for last. From what I've been hearing, "Mirror" could be the most beautiful movie ever made. A lot of people have had many inspired things to say about that movie. Even some of my close friends were raving about it, so I've approached it with extreme excitement, and even with some trepidation. Kowing how deeply "Stalker" had affected me (by literally changing the way I observe manifested physical objects), I thought that "Mirror" will open even more mystical doors for me, and push me even deeper into the metaphysical territory.

To make things even more exciting for me, I got my appetite whetted by watching, by pure chance, the very last scene in "Mirror" (the one where two boys and an old woman are walking down a meadow, while the camera retreats into the dark and mysterious forest). That scene on its own totally blew my mind, it was so incredibly deep and bewitching. It had built up my expectations to an unbelievable feverish pitch, as I was convinced that the entire movie will be loaded with similarly strong scenes, and as such, will surpass even the divine heights of "Stalker".

Imagine then my utmost disappointment when, while watching "Mirror" for the first time, I came to realize that it's just a meandering stream-of-consciousness bullshit, the type one could expect to get from lesser (but still criminally overrated) directors, such as Bergman et al.

Really, I couldn't find anything in "Mirror" that would be even closely compelling as the said closing scene. Everything else looks and feels so jagged, mumbo-jumboish, and frankly doesn't seem to go anywhere. I almost refuse to believe that this movie was actually made by Andrei Tarkovsky. It cannot be, he is too much of a good master to allow himself such a blooper.

Even though this movie is visually inferior to his other creations (with the notable exception of the closing scene), its largest flaw nevertheless is the absence of Tarkovsky's patented epic, transpersonal touch. Unlike many talented directors, who tend to get caught in the opaque and boring web of personal drama, Tarkovsky had always managed to steer clear from any traps posited by the frail and vulnerable artist's ego. In "Rublyov" for example, Tarkovsky managed to masterfully navigate the treacherous waters of discussing art, philosophy and religion, without marring it with his petty personal peeves. Even more so in "Stalker", which was a veritable minefield of all kinds of lures that could have destroyed the movie by inviting petty little personal agendas. Andrei was too talented to allow himself to slip into such pathetic self-aggrandizing schemas. "Solaris" is similar in the sense that some semblance of objectivity was retained, and any subjective musings have been successfully banished from the movie.

Not so in "Mirror". This movie is the exact opposite of "Stalker". In "Mirror", all that seems to matter is petty little personal agendas of the author. Sadly, "Mirror" resembles Bergman's insufferable work, and that ain't a compliment.

Since there is nothing in "Mirror' that would make your hair stand on its end (save for the brief closing scene), I am completely mystified as to how are so many people so enthralled by this movie. Perhaps one day someone will be able to explain this phenomenon to me. Until then, I will remain utterly confused about this movie.

1 comment:

ezze66 said...

“The best things in life are unexpected - because there were no expectations.”

Expectations are bad, from what I read in your post, you were very disaapointed after watching Mirror. You were expecting to see another "Stalker". That's ok. But you have to remember that almost every Tarkovsky film is "art".

I also love Stalker, it is one of my favorite films. Mirror is unique and should not be compared with other Tarkovsky movies. It should be considered "Cinema Art" and taken "as is".

Mirror should also be understood by our right brain, intuitive side.

One of the best scenes in Mirror: the women floating over the bed.

another great scene:
women after cleaning her hair.

absolutely great scenes.