8.1/10
37,942
132 user 75 critic

The Mirror (1975)

Zerkalo (original title)
A dying man in his forties remembers his past. His childhood, his mother, the war, personal moments and things that tell of the recent history of all the Russian nation.

Director:

Andrei Tarkovsky (as Andrey Tarkovskiy)

Writers:

Aleksandr Misharin (as A. Misharin), Andrei Tarkovsky (as Andrey Tarkovskiy)
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Popularity
3,883 ( 528)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Margarita Terekhova ... Natalya / Maroussia - the Mother
Oleg Yankovskiy ... The Father
Filipp Yankovskiy ... Aleksei - Five Years Old
Ignat Daniltsev ... Ignat / Aleksei - twelve years old
Nikolay Grinko ... Printery Director
Alla Demidova ... Lisa
Yuriy Nazarov ... Military trainer
Anatoliy Solonitsyn ... Forensic doctor
Larisa Tarkovskaya ... Nadezha - Mother of twelve-year-old Alexei
Tamara Ogorodnikova Tamara Ogorodnikova ... Nanny / Neighbour / Strange woman at the tea table
Yuri Sventisov Yuri Sventisov ... Yuri Zhary
Tamara Reshetnikova Tamara Reshetnikova
Innokentiy Smoktunovskiy ... Aleksei (voice)
Arseniy Tarkovskiy Arseniy Tarkovskiy ... Father (voice)
E. Del Bosque E. Del Bosque ... A Spaniard
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Storyline

Tarkovsky mixes flash-backs, 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 <xaviermartin@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Initially Tarkovsky considered Alla Demidova and Swedish actress Bibi Andersson for the role of the mother. In the end Margarita Terekhova was chosen. See more »

Goofs

During the last scene when the grandmother is accompanying the two children through a field, and the camera backtracks itself into dark woods,on the lower right portion of screen, the gleaming camera tracks are visible for a few seconds. See more »

Quotes

Forensic doctor: You know, I fell and found strange things here - roots, bushes... Has it ever occurred to you that plants can feel, know, even comprehend? The trees, this hazel-nut bush...
Natalya: This is the alder-tree.
Forensic doctor: It doesn't matter. They don't run about. Like us who are rushing, fussing, uttering banalities. That's because we don't trust nature that is inside us. Always this suspiciousness, haste, and no time to stop and think.
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Soundtracks

Johannes Passion - BWV 245
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
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User Reviews

 
It is all in the mirror
23 May 2004 | by Galina_movie_fanSee all my reviews

I just finished watching it. It's been several years since I saw it last time. I worried that I may not like it as much as I used to...

I should not have worried - I love it even more now if that is at all possible. I've seen it at different times of my life - first, as a college student many years ago in Moscow; I keep returning to it all my life.

When Tarkovsky's Zerkalo (The Mirror) was first released, it divided the audience completely. I remember how my friends were passionately discussing it. One girl was complaining that she did not understand anything; the movie was confusing for her, dark, disturbing, the children characters - sad, pale, poorly dressed. I remember her asking, "Why did they show a boy in the opening scene that had an awful stutter, and they never showed that boy again? What did it mean when the dying man in bed was setting a bird free? How did he get the bird on the first place?" Another friend of mine, a guy, tried to explain the things to her. He suggested that she thought about the times Zerkalo was showing, he tried to explain to her Tarkovsky's symbolism where the bird could be representing life and soul of the main character and the boy with the stutter could mean that it was most difficult for people to communicate and understand each other.

I only listened to their argument and did not participate because I had not seen the film yet. When it finally happened, Andrei Arsenievich Tarkovsky was presented at the screening and he talked to the audience before the show. I remember him repeating over and over that there were no tricks, no puzzles, and no tongue-in-cheeks in the film; that every symbol, image, dialog, and sound was there because they belonged there. He asked us if we had questions. Someone from the audience suggested that we saw the film first, and then, asked questions. Tarkovsky replied that from his experience, not many viewers would sit through the film and who ever would, usually leave in silence, not asking anything. And then he told us a story. After Zerkalo was completed, it was first shown to the group of the famous critics. After watching it, critics started to argue about it, trying to find the hidden meaning and make sense of what they just saw. It went on and on until the cleaning lady who came to the screening room and had been waiting for the end of discussion to do her job, asked them for how long they would stay? Someone said to her that they were discussing a very complicated film, and they needed time to understand it. Cleaning lady asked, "What is that you do not understand in this film? I saw it also, and I understood everything." Critics were silenced for a moment, and then, one of them asked the woman to share her thoughts on Zerkalo. She answered, "It is about a man who had caused too much pain to the ones whom he loved and who loved him. Now he is dying and he is trying to ask them for forgiveness but he does not know how." After the pause Tarkovsky said that he had nothing else to add about his film to what the cleaning lady had to say.

I never understood complains that Zerkalo is a very confusing, difficult, and dark film. No, it is clear and deep as a mirror. Tarkovsky said so himself, and I believe him. Every time you look at the mirror, it will show you new depth and reflections. Past, presence, future, memory, love, guilt, forgiveness, beauty, sadness, nostalgia, and sacrifice - the mirror reflects it all -just watch closely. This is the film about his family, his country, and his times. Childhood memory and the memory of the past generations glued together. The film is a look back in time and sad realization that children reflect destiny of fathers, as in a mirror. Destinies reflected one in another.

Zerkalo is not just good cinema, it is pure cinema. Like architecture is music in stone, Zerkalo is poetry on screen.

My verdict – The Best Film ever made, the top of my list (tie with Andrei Rublyov).


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

Soviet Union

Language:

Russian | Spanish

Release Date:

18 January 1978 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

The Mirror See more »

Filming Locations:

Mosfilm Studios, Moscow, Russia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

RUR622,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,537, 15 September 2002

Gross USA:

$22,168

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$119,266
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mosfilm See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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