Just saw this beautiful film for the first time, but just thought I’d tap into the resource that is all of you to see your take on the general premise. I realize it’s non-linear and a generic plot analysis doesn’t apply but there are characters and settings nonetheless, and this remains one of his most difficult films. Thanks for any discussion!
I wrote a piece on The Mirror not too long ago, if you’re interested.
This may be my favorite film of all time. When I think of film as Art (as opposed to art), this is the film that sits atop the list.
Check out some existing conversations here, here, and definitely here.
The search function has just been refined to make it easier to find existing threads. Add to existing conversations and raise the lake.
His most obtuse film, other than, perhaps Stalker.
His great achievement in The Mirror has probably done more to set cinema back than any film in the last 50 years as copy cats churn out bad film after bad film.
If somebody came up with a good enough argument for this being the greatest film ever made, I may be inclined to agree with them.
This is poetry in film form. And no pretense at all, for this is a skilled master at work, not some arthouse hack.
Jason—Parts of your post I agree with wholeheartedly (“poetry… no pretense”), and some I’m flabbergasted by (“set cinema back”).
Does imitation diminish its inspiration? Especially pale imitation?
And where are these copycats? Examples, por favor?
Jason’s right. It seems like I can’t go to the cinemas these days without being swamped by Tarkovsky rip-offs! “Shrek Forever After”, “Iron Man 2”, “Robin Hood”. They’re pretty much shot-for-shot remakes of “Ivan’s Childhood”, “Stalker” and “The Sacrifice”! I mean COME ON HOLLYWOOD! I know he was a great artist and everything, but sheesh!
I’m still laughing at Frasor’s post.
anyway, Josh, no, I don’t think that it diminishes Tarkovsky’s film that other, lesser filmmakers have borrowed his ideas and put them to use in lesser films.
Imitation does not diminish inspiration.
Yes that’s right, but i don’t think Tarkovsky imitation and example have been all negative. He and Bresson have been very influential on arthouse films in recent years, both with drawbacks as well as positives- with Tarkovsky, the time for contemplation, the beauty of nature a plus, but the long takes of some directors now can seem a self-serving mannerism, and my patience can be tried more than with the great man. It’s partly cos those 2 directors are considered very un-Hollywood that they’re so influential on arthouse. Great directors with less distinctive styles or auteurist trademarks like Ray, Renoir, Mizoguchi get less attention. This is a major drawback of auteurism. It is a mistake to lionise according to some sort of un-Hollywood scale, might as well set up a points system. What matters is good film-making and bad film-making, subtle qualities as well as trademark “uniqueness”.
well, i’ve said a bit more on Mirror on another thread, linked above; it’s awkward with such things running simultaneously
Hmm, I’m going to have to see The Mirror now and report back on it.
As someone who doesn’t like/understand this film, I did appreciate one of the opening scenes where the mother sits on the fence, and the doctor passes by. It is in that scene that I sort of got an idea of what Tarkovsky is going with the whole “sculpting in time” business. Its quite brilliant.
Thanks for the help Adam Cook, the piece helped me understand this beautifully difficult film a little more. Still trying to dive into the characters the most I possibly can. Ignat, for instance.
What are some of the bad imitations of The Mirror?
Having watched Mirror a few times I rarely have any feeling that I understand it — it’s a mystery and a thing of beauty. It has a far more oneiric quality than anything proffered by the surrealists — a poetry of dreams that are memories, and memories of dreams. At times it feels that Tarkovsky is giving us a vision of his own childhood life, and a particular view into “mother” as woman, which is something that one can only experience, if ever, as an adult looking back. Whatever meaning is there to be discovered or created, the experience is of beauty.
Perhaps Von Trier was imitating The Mirror in Antichrist, heh.
I find it awkward that so many people talk about not “understanding” the film. Art is illogical, it can’t be “unterstood” like a mathematical formula and does not need to be “understood” logically to be appreciated. Art is emotional and if a piece of art touches you, it is not because it is crafted in a technically sophisticated manner (except maybe if you are a nerd, which, sadly, most self-proclaimed “cineastes” are) but because of the feelings and/or questions that arise in you; in short: because of the effects that receiving the piece of art has on you.
By this I don’t mean that deconstructing art is pointless; what I want to point out is that even if you would make a list of the typical characteristics of Tarkowskij’s films, and would, based on that list, make your own film, it still would never reach the greatness of a real Tarkowskij film. The whole is more than the sum of its parts.
That’s fair but brings up the question of how to discuss it then, with other cineastes as well as other people.
“if a piece of art touches you, it is….because of the feelings and/or questions that arise in you.” (Ellipses to be followed up with shortly)
and if the feeling is confusion and the question is over what emotion the movie is supposed to provoke because it didn’t provoke anything from the one particular viewer, how does one respond? (By the way, I am not that viewer. I enjoyed The Mirror ). There are still ways to deconstruct the various methods of Tarkovsky to read a certain intent and message, that may have been missed or not familiarized with a certain viewer, as well as ways to look into yourself and say, “Well, I reacted to this, and it really made me think of that, so the way the movie does this makes me feel that.” That’s what I think Pradipta probably meant about hating/not understanding it—not getting a real response from it but impatience and frustration, and admitting that it may have been because he missed something that would otherwise have affected him.
When I watched it I didn’t even bother to focus on whatever narrative there may be, I just focused on the images. What’s funny is that the film is described as obscure, and hard to understand, yet when watching it you really don’t get that sense. I connected with what was going on in the film.
I remember Tarkovsky said something like there’s no symbolism in his films, and after watching The Mirror, I believe him. There are no symbols, everything is what it is.
Including gorgeous floaty women!
(Sorry, just had gush).
whoa, Fraser: i’m curious about you drawing connections to Iron man 2 and Shrek 4. Haven’t seen either but would you explain your point a little more? If this is true it’s fascinating.
Alexander: Haha, sorry to disappoint you but I was making a joke. The point being that the style and intention of Tarkovsky has not had any impact at all on any cinema close to the mainstream, which is what Jason was implying.
I’m sure a critic somewhere could make some kind of comparison with Tarkovsky to Shrek 4, Iron Man 2 and whatever crap is out today, but it would be a waste of time. 99.99% of mainstream Hollywood cinema deserves to be totally ignored.
lol, I was scrolling through this forum and your comment jumped out at me. It wouldn’t be the weirdest comparison i’ve read on this site. Should have read a little more before i posted.