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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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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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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:

RUR 622,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mosfilm See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Andrei Tarkovsky made 32 versions of The Mirror (1975) before he approved the final (33rd) cut. 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

Father: 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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Connections

Referenced in Long-Distance Runners: A Cross-Cultural Love Story (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Orgelbüchlein - Das alte Jahre vergangen ist - BWV 614
Composed by Johann Sebastian Bach
Played during the opening credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Incompatibility of Man and Nature
19 May 2000 | by two-riversSee all my reviews

Ignoring other prominent thematic fields like family or marital problems and Russian or Soviet history (from Pushkin via Stalin to the current fear of a Chinese threat), two topics can be extracted from the movie which Tarkovsky seems to be very concerned about: 1.The confrontation of Man and Nature as two opposing powers, and 2.The continuum of time (the equation of present, future and past).

The importance of topic 2 can be made clear by just considering the film's structure: The different time levels are intertwined in an often deliberately confusing way so that it actually becomes difficult to identify them. The fact that the same actors are used to portray different characters of different time levels (Maria=Alexei's mother and Natalya=Alexei's wife; Alexei as a child and Ignat=Alexei's son) underlines the idea of deliberateness in addition. But the interconnection of times is also made visible by the recurrent theme of the so called 'déjà-vu-phenomenon': A character perceives a new situation or action as if it has already occurred before. In fact, he or she gets a notion of the predetermination of everything that happens in his or her life - a horrid thought, because then you can't change anything and have to accept willingly whatever an obscure determinating force has planned for you.

Let's concentrate on the last sequences in which the significance and the combination of these themes become obvious. First there is the scene where Alexei, who lives in separation from Natalya, lies in agony, overcome by an unknown disease. He just has the energy to make a last statement for posterity ("I simply wanted to be happy!"), then he retires from the world, asking to be left in peace.

But while he is on the brink of death, he still succeeds in wondrously stirring up life. He takes into his hand a moribund bird, which is lying on his bedside table, squeezes it, and then lets it go so that it can fly up into freedom.

Is it the same bird that breaks through a window glass in another scene, or that places itself on the head of that orphan boy whose parents have perished in the Leningrad blockade, as if he wanted to protect him?

The birds of "Zerkalo" seem to take up a symbolic function similar to the dogs in other Tarkovsky movies (i.e.: "Nostalghia", "Solyaris"): They represent some kind of link between Man and Nature; they are frontier guards at the gates of the unknown.

Tarkovsky sees Man and Nature as two opposing, incompatible powers. This becomes evident again and again, for instance when a vigorous wind repeatedly runs through grass and trees or when drumming rain drenches the landscape. Here Man can only watch in amazement, being unable to set something of equal value against the inscrutable elemental forces.

In the closing sequence Man appears at first as if he was embedded in the womb of Nature. Maria, the future mother of Alexei, is lying dreamily in the grass when she is asked by her husband whether she prefers a boy or a girl. But instead of answering his question she is gazing into the distance, and suddenly she sees herself as grandmother, walking across woods and meadows having little Alexei (Ignat?) and his sister by the hand. Then a juvenile Maria appears again, and tears are running along her cheek, but she is smiling at the same time. It seems as if the knowledge of the unstoppable progression of human existence into a single direction (towards old age and death) makes her sad and happy at the same time. She feels grief because of the inevitable loss of youth, but she also rejoices in happy relaxation for she has made out the rules of life as such and has accepted them.

At the end the camera follows the way of the grandmother and her grandchildren for quite a while. But again and again trees interfere and obstruct the view on the humans like gloomy barricades. Until finally both ways separate irredeemably: The humans have disappeared somewhere in the distance whereas the camera shot pans into the dark impenetrability of the forest.


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