DMovies - Your platform for thought-provoking cinema
« previous

My mother on Tarkovsky’s dirty mirror

Tarkovsky reflected the image of his mother on the cinema mirror; can I do the same on this dirty website?

Mirrors are dirty because they do no reflect images; they distort them instead. No reflection is ever an accurate copy of the subject. There is always an angle, light and sometimes dirt, rust and tinting between the viewer’s eye and the mirror. In cinema the relationship with the mirror is even more complex because there is yet another element in the interaction: the eye of the filmmaker, represented here by the camera.

Tarkovsky’s Mirror (1975) has a plethora of dirty mirrors that slant, deviate, magnify and intoxicate the stunning photography and unusual narrative of the film. In fact, Mirror has an incongruous narrative: it is a loose representation of the director’s childhood with his mother and the split up from his wife decades later, interspersed by fragments of his memory. Both his mother and his wife are played by the beautiful and mysterious Margarita Terekhova.

The mirrors everywhere in the film distort Tarkovsky’s memories even further, allowing the viewer to engage with the events and the images in the film and to relate the film to their own experience. Mirror employed poetic licence at its fullest, and such artistic freedom makes the film universal. It is a very intimate film accessible to all cinema lovers. Just look at the mirror and reconstruct the film as desired.

Despite being a highly autobiographic film, Tarkovsky never appears in it. As an adult, his voice is played by his own father, while as a child he is played by Ignat Daniltsev (who also plays his son). Perhaps Tarkovsky is absent because the film director can never stand directly in front of the mirror. In other words, mirrors must be filmed from an angle so that the camera does not appear on the film (thereby preserving the fourth wall). Technology may have circumvented this issue now, but this was not the case back then.

Mirror is the most important film in my life because it has given me the freedom to envisage and to recreate the relationships in my own life. The human mind is not always cohesive: we all dream, some of us have Alzheimer’s, others go psychotic. Tarkovsky has given me the possibility to reconcile my feelings, to juggle the images and the events at my own accord and without losing my sanity.

Tarkovsky once said that he made Mirror thinking of himself, but realised upon completion was in reality about his mother Maria Vishnyakova (pictured above). She appears occasionally in the film almost like a ghost or a foreigner visiting her son. Tarkovsky rebuilt the house where he grew up precisely as he remembered it and exactly at the same spot for the filming. He then filmed his mother’s actual reactions at seeing her past home reconstructed in minute detail.

I recently asked my mother to watch Mirror with me because she is such an important part of my life. Just like Tarkovsky felt that Mirror was about his mother, I too often feel that I live for my mother, that I cry my mother’s tears. It felt that watching the film together with her,  I would pay a tribute to both her and Tarkovsky, reconciling my passion for cinema with maternal love.

My mother and I live in different continents (she is in Brazil, where I was born, and I live in the UK, my chosen home). Yet she visits me often and her presence is conspicuous, just like Maria in Mirror. The more time I spend with my mother, the more she takes a leading role in my life. Not through domination. Quite the opposite, she overtakes my life through gentle affection and respect. The few moments we spend increasingly gain a dreamlike quality, just like in Tarkovsky’s film.

I write this with enormous pleasure and happiness, hoping that my ideas are intelligible to the readers and my feelings are tangible. I wish I could put into words the feelings that I have for my mother, in the same way Tarkovsky did it for his own mother with cinema. Hopefully one day I will be able to write texts as skillfully and beautifully as Tarkovsky directs movies.


By Victor Fraga - 04-03-2016

By Victor Fraga - 04-03-2016

Victor Fraga is a Brazilian born and London-based writer with more than 15...

DMovies Poll

Do/would you go to the cinema in order to watch documentaries?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Most Read

François Ozon probably doesn’t get much sleep. At [Read More...]
Pigs might fly. And so Brexit might happen. [Read More...]
Time flies by! DMovies was launched in February [Read More...]
American novelist Dennis Cooper’s cinematic debut feels like [Read More...]
It’s 2018, and neoliberalism is steadily morphing into [Read More...]
On the occasion of the UK release of [Read More...]

Read More

In the Crosswind (Risttuules)

Martti Helde
2017

Victor Fraga - 21-09-2017

The moving picture that doesn't move: superb Estonian film uses innovative tableaux vivants technique in order to portray the Stalin's forced removal of 40,000 Estonians to Siberia in 1941 - available now as part of the Walk this Way collection [Read More...]

On Body and Soul (Testről és lélekről)

Ildikó Enyedi
2017

Jeremy Clarke - 19-09-2017

See you in my dreams! Golden Bear winner is an oneiric romance set against the unlikely backdrop of an abattoir - out in cinemas this week [Read More...]

Five dirty picks from the Raindance Film Festival

 

Victor Fraga - 18-09-2017

Check out top five recommendations for the Raindance Film Festival, one of the largest showcases for independent cinema in the world, starting this week in London [Read More...]

Facebook Comment

Website Comments

One thought on “My mother on Tarkovsky’s dirty mirror

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *