Mirror ★★★★★

"alone in the whole world. more daring and lighter than a bird. down the stairs, like a dizzy apparition, you came to take me on your road, through rain-soaked lilacs, to your own possession, to the looking glass world. as night descended i was blessed with grace, the alter gate opened up, and in the darkness shining and slowly reclining was your body naked. on waking up i said: god bless you! although i knew how daring and undue my blessing was. you were fast asleep, your closed eyelids with the universal blue, the lilac on the table so strained to sweep. touched by the blue, your lids were quite serene, your hand was warm, and rivers pulsed in crystal slits. mountains smoked and oceans swarmed. you held a sphere in your palm, of crystal; on your throne you were sleeping calm. and, oh my god - belonging only to me, you woke at once and transformed the language humans speak and think. speech rushed up sonorously formed, with the word "you" so much reformed as to evolve a new sense meaning king. and suddenly all changed, like in a trance. even trivial things, so often used and tried, when standing 'tween us, guarding us, was water, solid, stratified. it carried us i don't know where. retreating before us, like some mirage, were cities, miraculously fair. under our feet the mint grass spread, the birds were following our tread, the fishes came to a river bend, and to our eyes the sky was open. behind us our fate was groping."

"i think it's good to keep silent for a while. words can't express everything a person feels."

failed challenges challenge // (1/171)

failed task - watch a film that dramatizes a moment or historical event

alphabet challenge // (3/130)

primarily in his native language of russian, mirror makes my second andrei tarkovsky film that i've seen. it's incredibly expansive, poetic and prosaic, and it's firmly engulfed in the philosophical ways of thinking, and in the realms of metaphysicality. i believe its deconstructed structure lends itself to create that kind of floating narrative that tarkovsky seems to so love; it's like we are traveling in the air, on the clouds, in the sunset. he takes us along on his chariot ride through the sun, and we let him guide us through the layers of his effortless labyrinths, cinematography searing far into our brains for, i imagine, years to come. i believe this film's resonance is on a spiritual plane; you have to delve into your own heart to find the meaning in it all. and what's more beautiful, more impactful, than something that makes you see not only the artist's quintessence of character, but your own, as well? it's exactly in the "not knowing" of his filmography that you find the most valuable knowledge of all: that of yourself. 

mirror represents themes of emptiness, isolation (it seems, comparing this to nostalgia, that andrei has a specific vision of "home": a secluded house to dream about, with a family and nothing else around it), loneliness and wistfulness. though it's extremely non-linear formulaically, it's once again an effective mood piece that gently gnaws at the soul. there are dreamlike sequences (akin to those in nostalgia), and this time they compile fears, nonsensical figments, and the internal chiaroscuro of the mind. the film threads these haunting images into the stories of life our characters see unfurling before them, behind them, and around them, and for that reason i find mirror a bit more harrowing than nostalgia, and also a bit more open to interpretation. or, in all honesty, a bit more open to confusion. 

a lot of messages are struck upon here. there's the underlying importance of nature coursing through much of the speech, paired with natural disasters, such as fire and in-home flooding, and natural elements, such as strong wind and heavy rain. a burning house seems to reinforce that yearning that andrei wants to make so palpable; it seems to be the visual vessel used to convey abandonment, restlessness, and the uneasiness in the heart of a nomad. when you have nowhere to call home, where is your place in the world? who are your "people"? do you have a name? a soul? what are you tied to? what keeps you from succumbing to the gravitational pull of the abyss?

in this film there's also the simplistic depiction of the human experience, separated from the taint of materialism or greed, which seems to be very important to tarkovsky to exclude from his work. there's historical content mixed in about many different regions, which adds to the gloomy and foreboding atmosphere of dread that drips like wet paint off a canvas. then there's the autobiographical elements, as there were in nostalgia. andrei's thoughts, his feelings, his desires, the absence of pleasure. the homelessness, the apathy. the desire to return to a place more idyllic; a place romanticized and immortalized in the mind. even beautiful poetry written by his father is included, making it feel that much more like a metaphor for andrei's life. it's interesting, though, that we don't actually see the adult version of him very much, the one that we hear speaking. we see him almost in multiple stages of adolescence instead. perhaps this is him trying to come to terms with his own childhood and what attributed to him growing into man. 

in any case, it's safe to say that, as a director, he liked to place a thin veil of himself over each project he created, and that's the signature left by an auetur that makes their work so powerful, even when viewed posthumously. perhaps especially when viewed posthumously. tarkovsky is a visionary, that can't be denied. it's possible that his films can never be truly or fully understood, because each one is a piece of his soul. but that's what defines art and the artist: the ability, the vulnerability, and the bravery to leave yourself in the world for anyone to see, even long after you're gone. that's the basis of a creative legacy. that's one of the purposes of life. art is like breathing; without it the world would suffocate. tarkovsky recognized this, and he made it his life's mission to breathe that art onto the screen. and that's the very definition of cinema. 

(part of my priority watchlist of 2020)

(andrei tarkovsky - ranked)

(top favorite first watches of 2020)

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