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The Mirror

By Lee Gardner | Posted 2/27/2008

If you told someone the story of your life, you would almost certainly do your best to make it make sense--to follow a linear progression, to show lessons learned along the way, to somehow add up. But what if someone were granted access to the raw feed of your brain as you cycled through your memories inside your own consciousness--sometimes clear, sometimes inscrutable, always vivid, with no particular order or emphasis? That's what watching Soviet auteur Andrei Tarkovsky's 1975 The Mirror is like. With no preamble or explanation, the movie flips through fragments from the life of a man not unlike the director himself, leaping back and forth in time, although always returning to a gloomy cottage in the Russian woods and a lovely blond woman (Margarita Terekhova) and a young boy (Ignat Daniltsev). The movie switches from color to black and white without warning, newsreel footage barges in here and there, poetry is intoned in voice-over, and Terekhova and Daniltsev play multiple roles. Tarkovsky binds it all together with his usual deliberateness and his trademark visual magic; don't be surprised if a barn burning in the rain or the shrinking disk of condensation left on a table by a cup of hot tea find their way into your own store of indelible memories.

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