Herzog's film is based upon the true and mysterious story of Kaspar Hauser, a young man who suddenly appeared in Nuremberg in 1828, barely able to speak or walk, and bearing a strange note;... See full summary »
A Victorian surgeon rescues a heavily disfigured man who is mistreated while scraping a living as a side-show freak. Behind his monstrous facade, there is revealed a person of intelligence and sensitivity.
The director mixes flashbacks, historical footage and original poetry to illustrate the reminiscences of a dying man about his childhood during World War II, adolescence, and a painful divorce in his family. The story interweaves reflections about Russian history and society. Written by
Wintertime scenes in the Mirror echo Bruegel's paintings Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap and The Hunters in the Snow. See more »
In the first scene, in which stutterer Yuri Zhary is being hypnotized, a shadow of the boom mic is prominently visible on the wall behind him. However, because this is clearly supposed to be a recreation of a TV broadcast, it appears to be a intentional error. See more »
It seems to make me return to the place, poignantly dear to my heart, where my grandfathers house used to be in which i was born 40 years ago right on the dinner table. Each time i try to enter it, something prevents me from doing that. I see this dream again and again. And when i see those walls made of logs and the dark entrence, even in my dream i become aware that I'm only dreaming it. And the overwhelming joy is clouded by anticipation of awakening. At times something happens and i stop ...
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We are talking visual poetry here. For almost the entire film, every square inch of screen is minutely painted. Ordinary criticism doesn't apply, there is no comparison between this and any other film.
So many scenes have you holding your breath in awe. The smallest movement of light is choreographed precisely. A shadow across someone's face, the wind in the trees - these are not simply images of those things, but the ungraspable nature of life, regret, beauty, memory. So much more lies beneath the surface, as we are shown a reflection in a mirror that momentarily purports to be reality, but need not necessarily be interpreted as such.
The film's magic derives from Tarkovsky's surefooted ability to succeed with a succession of intense, beautiful images. He cannot put a foot wrong. Discontinuity in the narrative give the appearance of complexity, but Tarkovksy would insist that the basic thrust of the narrative is simple. The film is immensely personal, and the disconnections only serve to involve the viewer more we are allowed to fill in the gaps ourselves.
To appreciate all this you need an essential sympathy for nostalgia and memories, for the passing of life, and for regret. You need an appreciation of a silent room and what it previously held, and of nature. You will need a sense of living in a turbulent and dangerous world, where all beauty is transient and sad. You will need to understand how small moments in life can become the most precious.
The film is tragic because, like memories, it lingers. It shows us details beneath the surface and how they can affect us. It shows life in the context of death, nature, the times and places we have passed through. The camera ponders and paints all this in beautiful detail.
Of course, real life is never so rich nor so intense - only momentarily so. The film wants to distil as much of that precious beauty as possible in a number of disjointed moments, coloured through memory and imagination, from childhood through to the point of death.
Apply it to your own life. There is no more than this.
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