The great Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky's transcendent autobiographical poem The Mirror is a film that blends the themes of childhood memories, dreams, emotional abandonment and loss of innocence with slight touches of documentary footage which can be looked at as a political commentary on Russian history and of its people. The film shifts from three different timelines of the narrator life which are the pre war (1935), war (1940s), and post war (1960s-70s), as the narrator lays on his deathbed looking back at the life that he had lived. (He is never shown on the screen but heard through a series of poems which were written and recited by Tarkovsky's own father.) The three different timelines also slip in and out of different colors, black and white, sepia, and monochrome, with some scenes that include newsreel footage of wartime with Russia, China and Germany. This non narrative structure and collage like images that flow throughout the story can be looked at as a form of consciousness, dreams and memories which can be compared to the visual works of Ingmar Bergman's Persona, Alain Resnais Last Year at Marienbad and Terrence Malick's The Tree of Life. Andrei Tarkovsky is one of the most difficult directors to grasp, as he had a profound undercurrent of spirituality and the reason that his films are not as widely known is because they are the most abstract, exhaustive, metaphysical, and intellectual, films that stem closest to the literary definition of art. All throughout his film-making career, Tarkovsky, having to deal with the constant struggles with the conservative Soviet regime, could make only a handful of movies, each of which can serve to be a live thesis on spiritualism and theology, all the while mastering the use of time and space, expressing what many would think would be inexpressible in the cinema. Many of the long takes in The Mirror are visually beautiful and unforgettable, which include the simple act of a woman washing her hair in a basin, a barn on fire slowly burning to the ground, a woman levitating several feet above her bed, or even the mysterious opening sequence where a teenage boy is being cured of his stammer by a hypnotist. The elemental images of nature, fire, water, wind, doorways, mirrors, birds flying through windows, blowing drapes and a child who is forced to look and see beyond himself in the image of a mirror which seems like an image of eternity, are powerful existential images that you can't just shake and forget, as it brings back our own past experiences and traumas of our childhood that shaped us into the people we are today. The Mirror brings up several philosophical and spiritual ideas on the existence of human nature, and The Mirror is not only one of Tarkovsky's most poetic, ambiguous, and complex works, but it is also his most personal as it delves into the life of the man himself.
In a very mysterious intro a boy who seems to be Alexei's son Ignat is trying to get a signal from his Television and when he does he finally finds a program that portrays a physician trying to cure a patient of his stutter. The physician asks the a boy his name and the man responds by telling her his name is Yuri Zhary from Kharkov. The physician tries to cure the boy of his stammer using hypnosis and informs him to not be so tense and instead let the tension flow through his fingers as she orders him to say "I can speak," as he is in a trance.
After the opening titles roll, a scene is set in the countryside during prewar times in which Alexei's mother Maria (Margarita Terekhova) who is also called Masha and Marusya, is sitting on a wooden fence, smoking a cigarette and staring at the horizon as you hear Aleksei narrate and say, "The road from the station lay through Ignatyevo...turning off near the farmstead...where we spent our summers before the war...and then on to Tomshino through a dark oak wood. We usually recognized the family...when they appeared from behind the bush. If he turns towards the house it's Father. If not, it isn't him which means he'll never come again."
A stranger who just happens to be passing by asks if this is the road to Tomshino. Maria tells him he made a wrong turn. The man asks her where she lives and Maria says here. The man asks, "Where? On the fence?" Maria says, "What interests you, the road to Tomshino or where I live?" The man informs her he's a doctor and when he keeps pestering her she threatens to call her husband but the doctor tells her she has no husband because she has no wedding ring. The doctor asks for a cigarette as he notices her little boy Aleksei sleeping in a tree hamper.
When the doctor sits down on the wooden fence it collapses and the two of them fall down onto the grass. Maria asks him why he is so happy and the doctor laughs and says, "It's nice to fall with a pretty woman." While on the ground the doctor looks around and says, "Look at these roots, these bushes. Did you ever wonder about plants...feeling, being aware...even percieving. The trees, this beechnut...They're in no hurry...While we rush around and speak in platitudes. It's because we don't trust our inner natures. There's all this doubt, haste...lack of time to stop and think." Maria tells the doctor he is bleeding but he ignores her and decides to continue on his way.
Maria heads into her father's family house with her son Aleksei and his younger sister as the camera follows her inside until she hears neighbors screaming of their family barn suddenly catching fire. Maria and her children run outside to have a look as she watches the fire burn her family barn down in a long take shot of such meditation and beauty.
In a mysterious dream sequence of young Aleksei, he wakes up to find his mother rinsing her hair in a basin. In a beautiful shot, Maria in slow motion whips her wet hair around and the ceiling suddenly starts to crumble above her as rain from outside starts to pour in as you see a reflection of Maria in a mirror which looks like her elderly present self.
The film becomes color once again as it is now in the postwar time frame, as you hear Aleksei (You never see him) talking with his mother over the phone inside his apartment while the camera roams through several rooms of the apartment. You hear Aleksei tell his mother Maria how he just had a dream of himself as a child, and then he asks his mother when his father abandoned the both of them. She tells him it was in 1935 and Aleksei asks, "And the fire? Remember when the barn burned down?" Maria tells him that was 1935 as well and suddenly his mother informs Aleksei that her longtime friend Liza who worked with her at the printing-house has just died.
Switching back to the prewar time frame, Maria is seen rushing frantically to her workplace as a proofreader at a printing press. She is worrying about a mistake she may have overlooked as the camera follows her as she frustrates her boss and co workers. After finding the proofs she wanted she eventually decides to leave and head back home.
When arriving back to her home she is their with her longtime friend and work colleague Liza. Liza outright insults Maria telling her she looks like Maria Timofeyevna who was Captain Lebyadkin's sister and says she is greatly similar to her. Maria is wondering what her friend Liza is getting at and Liza says, "Your whole life's just 'Fetch me some water!' It's a show of independence. If something doesn't suit you...you pretend it doesn't exist. I'm amazed at your ex-husband's patience. He should have bolted ages ago! Do you ever admit you're wrong? Never! You created the whole situation. You can say he escaped in the nick of time before you managed to make him like you. I swear you'll make your children miserable."
Those insults and withering criticism from Liza reduce Maria to tears and so she decides to take a shower but when the water pressure stops working, Maria starts to laugh and forget her friends insult.
Back in postwar time, Aleksei (again only heard off-screen) quarrels with his wife, Natalia (also played by Margarita Terekhova), who has divorced him and is living with their son Ignat in a home that includes several Spanish tenants. Natalia looks in a mirror as Aleksei tells Natalia how she resembles his mother Maria which is one of the reasons why Natalia thinks they divorced. Natalia says to Aleksei, 'I shrink to see Ignat becoming like you. You and I could never communicate." Aleksei says, "When I recall my childhood and mother...somehow she always has your face. I'm sorry for both of you, you and her." Natalia tells Aleksei that he won't be happy with anyone and she is worried Ignat, their son will become like him. "You're to blame for being on the outs with your mother," Natalia states.
Aleksei believes it's because his mother Maria always thought she knew the best for him which is why the two of them started drifting apart; meanwhile the Spanish tenants are in the other room regarding bullfighting with one another. Natalia tells Aleksei that her house is going to be painted so she would like their son Ignat to stay with him for a week.
This scene is followed by newsreel scenes from the Spanish Civil War and of a balloon ascent in the USSR.
In the next scene, set in Aleksei's apartment, Ignat is left alone in the apartment and he suddenly meets a strange woman sitting at the kitchen table. At her request, Ignat reads an underlined passage from a letter by Pushkin and suddenly he hears the doorbell. He runs to answer the door and at the doorstep is an elderly woman, (who is played by the same actress who plays Maria as an elderly grandmother, and yet the two don't seem to recognize one another.) The elderly woman says, "Oh, I think I've got the wrong place," and walks away.
Ingnat closes the door and when heading back to the kitchen he realizes that the mysterious woman who just asked him to read the letter by Pushkin now mysteriously disappeared and what is left is a slight dampness caused by the cup of tea she was sipping on the table as it slowly evaporates.
Ignat suddenly gets a phone call from his father Aleksei who is asking him if Maria Nikolayevna arrived yet and Ingnat tells his father that she hasn't. Aleksei than has a quick conversation with his son advising him to bring a girl over there, telling him a story of a redhead he once liked when he was around his sons age during the war.
Switching to wartime, the shot opens with the redhead that Aleksei was infatuated with at that time. The adolescent Aleksei is seen undergoing rifle training with a dour instructor, inter cut by newsreel footage of World War II, Chinese civilians and the Sino-Soviet border conflict.
One of the young boys being instructed seems to not follow orders directly and in a slightly humourous scene the troubled boy pulls a pin of a grenade that was handed out by the instructor and throws it towards him. The instructor and the other children all take cover but the grenade for some reason does not go off.
The film reverts back to pre-war time and in color as Aleksei's father makes a surprise return home to reunite with his wife and children as the war finally comes to an end.
The film then returns to the quarrel between Aleksei and his ex-wife Natalia in the postwar as the two are discussing their son Ignat and how Aleksei believes it would be better off if their son Ignat lived with his mother. Natalia looks at pictures of Aleksei's mother Maria and admits that the two of them really do have similarities as Natalia then informs Aleksei that she is in love with another man who is a writer.
During Aleksei and Natalia's conversation the camera pans out the window to show their son Ignat outside in the street burning bush.
You then here the present Aleksei narrate the dreams that he keeps having as the camera pans in and out of Aleksei's grandfather's country house and the surrounding countryside as you hear Aleksei say: "It seems to be forcing me to return...to the bittersweet site of my grandfathers' house where I was born on the table 40 years ago. Something always prevents me from entering. I keep having this dream.When I dream of the log walls and dark pantry...I sense that it's only a dream. Then joy is clouded, for I know I'll wake up. Sometimes something happens, and I stop dreaming...of the house and the pines by the house of my childhood. Then I grieve...and wait for the dream that will make me a child once again...and I'll be happy again, knowing...that all still lies ahead...and nothing is impossible."
Switching again to prewar time, we are than followed by a black and white dreamlike sequence showing a adolescent Aleksei roaming through the country house and the outside property as a storm starts to brew and the wind begins to build up. Young Aleksei begins to enter the country house to find his mother Maria and the family dog, as a bird suddenly crashes through the glass window.
The scene is suddenly followed in color and in pre-war times where Maria and young Aleksei go to visit the doctor who Maria met in the beginning of the film to sell a pair of earrings. Maria arrives at the doctor's home and when the pregnant doctors wife answers the door, Maria tells her how she is a friend of her husbands. The doctor isn't home just yet but his wife politely invites Maria and young Aleksei in.
While Maria and the doctor's wife have a discussion in the other room they leave young Aleksei alone as he takes a seat and is forced to look at himself in a horizontal mirror. Aleksei gets up and eventually makes his way in a different room where he finds one of the doctor's daughters near a fireplace as Aleksei looks up to watch a lamp flame slowly die out. Maria and the doctor's wife continue to have a discussion in another room and yet their dialogue is completely silent as the diegetic sounds in the background are of the dripping of water.
The two women make their way into the doctor's wife's youngest daughter's room to watch her as she sleeps peacefully. The daughter wakes up and the doctor's wife says, "What a chatterbox your mother is. See who's here? Don't know them? You can't wake up, can you? Go back to sleep, then, love." Maria for some reason seems bothered and walks out of the room to take a seat in the hall informing the doctor's wife that she isn't feeling very well.
The doctor's wife invites her and Aleksei to stay for dinner because she wants to cook cockerel, but the only problem is she has to slaughter one, but she can't seem to do it because of her frequent nauseousness. The doctor's wife asks Maria if she could slaughter the cockerel for them, but Maria tells her that she's never done that before. The doctor's wife says there is nothing to it as she forcibly puts the cockerel on Maria's lap and hands her a small ax. At first Maria is hesitant but she eventually goes through with it as she slaughters the cockerel off-screen, as you can hear the screech of the animal and the sudden blast of cockerel feathers in the air.
Maria seems disgusted at what she has done and quickly decides to leave telling the doctor's wife that she changed her minds about the earrings and grabs Aleksei and they quickly make their way out of the house and down the dirt road.
Another mysterious dream sequence occurs in black and white as you hear Maria's husband say to her, "Don't fret. You'll be all right." as Maria seems to be hovering in the air several feet above the bed as her husband poignantly caresses her. The camera begins to flow through the country house following young Aleksei as the breeze blows through open windows and drapes and knocking over ornaments on an outdoor table.
The scene eventually slides into present time and color as it shows elderly Maria's grandchildren swimming in the pond outside of the country house as young Ignat walks over to inform her that the stove is smoking. At the town hospital the forensic doctor informs Aleksei that he is suffering from severe strep throat and he probably won't make it, while sitting beside Aleksei is a mysterious malady. Before the scene ends Aleksei (his face isn't shown) caresses a bird and lets the bird fly away.
The final scene plays in the prewar time frame, and seems to combine sections of all three timelines all happening at once. The scene shows a pregnant Maria laying on the grass next to her husband outside the country house."Do you want a boy or girl?" asks her husband as the two lay peacefully together, content and in love by the wooden fence.
The camera pans through the woods as the shot is inter cut by scenes of showing Maria young and old and with her son Aleksei and of her grandson Ignat. Young pregnant Maria starts to tear up happily knowing she is going to be a mother as the camera pans back through the back woods as you hear the shout of Aleksei's son Ignat as he is walking along side the dirt road with his grandmother.
The concept of The Mirror dates as far back as 1964 when Andrei Tarkovsky wrote down his first idea for a film about the dreams, thoughts and memories of a man, without the man appearing on-screen as he would in a conventional film. Over the years Tarkovsky wrote several screenplay variants, at times working with Aleksandr Misharin.
Their mutually developed script initially was not approved by the film committee of Goskino, and it was only after several years of waiting that Tarkovsky would be allowed to realize The Mirror. At various times the script was known under different names, most notably Confession and A White, White Day. The completed film was initially rejected by Goskino, and after some delay was given only limited release in the Soviet Union.
The first episodes of The Mirror were written while Tarkovsky was working on his epic Andrei Rublev. These episodes were published as a short story under the title A White Day in 1970 which was a title was taken from a 1942 poem by his father, Arseny Tarkovsky who reads his own work during the film. In 1968, after having finished Andrei Rublev, Tarkovsky went to the cinematographer's resort in Repino intending to write the script for The Mirror together with Aleksandr Misharin. This script was titled Confession and was proposed to the film committee at Goskino. Although it contained popular themes, for example, a heroic mother, the war and patriotism, the proposal was turned down. The main reason was most likely the complex and unconventional nature of the script. Moreover, Tarkovsky and Misharin clearly stated that they did not know what the final form of the film would be – this was to be determined in the process of filming.
With the script being turned down by the film committee, Tarkovsky went on to make the sci-fi film Solaris. But his diary entries show that he was still eager to make the film. Finally, the script was approved by the new head of Goskino, Filipp Ermash in the summer of 1973. Tarkovsky was given a budget of 622,000 Soviet ruble and 7500 meters (24,606 feet) of Kodak film, corresponding to 110 minutes, or roughly three takes assuming a film length of 3000 meters (10,000 feet).
Several versions of the script for The Mirror exist, as Tarkovsky constantly rewrote parts of the script, with the latest variant of the script written in 1974 while he was in Italy. One scene that was in the script but that was removed during shooting, was interviews with his mother. Tarkovsky wanted to use a hidden camera to interview her on the pretext that it was research for the film. This scene was one of the main reasons why Vadim Yusov, who was the cameraman for all of Tarkovsky's previous films refused to work with him together on this film. At various times, the script and the film was known under the titles Confession, Redemption, Martyrology, Why are you standing so far away?, The Raging Stream and A White, White Day (sometimes also translated as A Bright, Bright Day.). Only while filming Tarkovsky decided to finally title the film The Mirror. (The final film does indeed feature several mirrors with some scenes shot in reflection.)
Filming began in September 1973 and ended in March 1974. The outdoor scenes were shot in Tutshkovo near Moscow and the indoor scenes were shot at the Mosfilm studio. In Tarkovsky's diaries which were published under the english title Time Within Time he mentions the great actress Bibi Andersson being a possible candidate for the role of the mother Maria, because he admired her work with Swedish director Ingmar Bergman and had even recently met her while doing preparations for Solaris. Yet he decided to change his mind because of the struggles of having to battle the Soviet film bureaucracy to hire a foreign actor.
Vadim Yusov who was Tarkovsky's collaborator on all his previous films was originally going to be the cinematographer but due to creative and personal differences he withdrew from the project and Georgi Rerberg took his place instead. The completed film was initially rejected by Filipp Ermash, the head of Goskino in July 1974 with the reason that the film is incomprehensible. Tarkovsky was infuriated about this rejection and even toyed with the idea of going abroad and making a film outside the Soviet Union. The Mirror was ultimately approved by Goskino without any changes in fall 1974.
The Mirror never had an official première and had only a limited, second category release with only 73 copies. Although it was officially announced for September 1975, it was shown as early as March 1975.
Despite very limited distribution, The Mirror was well received by the audiences. Goskino did not allow it to be shown at the Cannes Film Festival. The managing director of the festival, Maurice Bessy, was sympathetic to Tarkovsky. Upon hearing that The Mirror would not be allowed to be shown in Cannes, he unsuccessfully threatened to not take any other Soviet film. In 2012, Will Self argued that The Mirror remains the most beautiful film ever made.
What makes Tarkovsky's Mirrors such an emotional and personal film is because of its vivid images which are direct memories from Tarkovsky's own childhood. For instance the country house that is in the film was perfectly reconstructed to portray Tarkovsky's childhood home using his memories, recollections and surviving photographs that he had. Tarkovsky even ordered a field of buck wheat to be planted on the location. He had the costumes of Maria to match up with the outfits of his own mother using old photographs of her. Many of his family members also make small appearances in the film, like for instance his real-life mother portrays the elderly Maria, Tarkovsky's wife Larissa appears as the doctor's wife and his stepdaughter appears as the red-headed girl who the young Aleksei was infatuated with.
Tarkovsky's The Mirror will always be for me the quintessential film for dreams, like how Alain Resnais's Last Year at Marienbad is the quintessential film for memories. The film is a movie collage of consciousness that doesn't follow a linear narrative, as the three different story lines crossover back and forth, which can make the film very difficult for a first time viewer. Yes, the different color tints can be quite helpful in distinguishing each story from the last but what makes the film even more complicated is that Tarkovsky purposely uses the same actors to play multiple character's within each storyline. Actress Margarita Terekhova plays the character of the ex-wife Natalia and of the mother Maria (She's also called Masha and Marusya by other characters which doesn't help with the confusion).
Tarkovsky points out Natalia and Maria's similar appearances several times in the film as Aleksei and Natalia bring up how her looks are very similar to his mothers, which Natalia believes was partially the reason for the divorce. The young child actor Ignat Daniltsev plays 12-year-old Aleksei and also Aleksei's own son Ignat. By using the same face for different character's the seperate stories can get slightly irritating, but after you start getting used to the structure of the story, it becomes much easier to understand especially on repeated viewings. Interestingly enough, because Tarkovsky uses the same actors for different characters within the storyline he seems to be able to tap the audience into the subjectivity of our own memories, to try to remember who is who while watching the film. Some dreams themselves can be strange in which certain memories of people from our past blend into another character and we view certain people like are mother, daughter or best friend and their projection is of someone entirely different.
The Mirror is the dreams of a dying man who is projecting the memories of his adolescence, but that doesn't necessarily mean what he is dreaming and what he remembers is the truth. The film is a sort of picture book of Aleksei's life and he gives us small fragments of certain moments of his adolescence, but not enough information to really explain everything in great detail. We get quick glimpses of arguments with Aleksei and his ex-wife Natalia that regard the custody of their son Ignat. The argument seems to have much more brewing that the memories don't explore in great detail, especially when Natalia throws accusations towards her husband on why he is the way he is because of the way he was raised by his mother.
We get quick glimpses of Aleksei as a young boy trying the patience of his military instructor, quick phone calls with Aleksei's mother and also phone calls with Aleksei and his son Ignat in which Aleksei goes into quick detail on his first crush on a redhead girl when he was his son's age. With all these quick fragments of Aleksei life, at the end of the film the audience still don't get any clear answers on his life. And even if everything in the end did seem to fall together perfectly and make sense, how can we know for certain that the information that was given to us was accurately portrayed, since the source of these memories and dreams are coming from a sick man who could very well be delirious and not well mentally, or they could be just distorted memories of things that he wanted to believe happened, but didn't.
I realised that the best approach when watching this film is a simple one. To not try to dissect what each scene means per say but to try to understand the underlying themes of the film which involve adolescent love, pain, abandonment and emotional trauma. The way a child is raised greatly affects the person he is in adult life, and this film portrays a young fatherless Aleksei who later in his life struggles to even connect with his own son Ignat. And yet to attempt to try to conform these images into a coherent plot is meaningless. I don't believe Tarkovsky attended parts of this film to all make logical sense, because like most dreams portions of Aleksei's dreams are probably meant to be more an symbolic piece that is purposely intended to be complex, confusing and convoluted. How can you logically make sense of some of the scenes that are shown in this film? For instance, Maria rinsing her hair in a basin and in slow motion whips her wet hair around as the ceiling suddenly starts to crumble above her as rain from outside starts to pour in. Or the mysterious woman who asks Ignat to read a letter by Pushkin and suddenly disappears after Ignat answers the door, leaving only a stain of dampness on the table from a cup of tea which seems to slowly evaporate. And than the infamous scene near the end in which Maria seems to be hovering in the air several feet above the bed as her husband poignantly caresses her.
Tarkovsky even says that the structure of the dreams that he layed out within the story, are more reminiscences and less retrospection. He once stated in an interview: "There are many complications there which I don't even completely understand myself. For example, it was very important for me to have my mother in some scenes. There is one episode in the film in which the boy, Ignat, is sitting...not Ignat...what was his name?...the author's son, he is sitting in his father's empty room, in the present, in our times....And as he is sitting there we hear the doorbell, he opens the door. This is my mother. And she is the grandmother of this boy who opens the door for her. But why doesn't she recognise him, why doesn't the grandson recognize her?...one has completely no idea. That is...firstly, this wasn't explained by the plot, in the screenplay, and secondly...even for me this was unclear."
Andrei Tarkovsky is one of the most difficult directors to grasp. His films are less entertainments and more meditative art. A lot of people say his films are too slow, too long and need extensive trimming in several scenes. But they don't 'really' see what the great artist is trying to portray on the screen. I believe the films he makes which have long philosophical dialog and include extended long takes make audiences relax, slow down and enter his world of complete meditation. Some of his shots would seem like they go on for an unreasonable amount of time, and people can either get bored, or instead we can do as I believe Tarkovsky's intentions are during these slow periods and give our mind a time to consolidate what we've just seen, what we've just heard and what we've just witnessed. It gives us a chance to look at ourselves and process it in terms of our own reflections.
Whenever I bring up Andrei Tarkovsky I bring up meditative cinema. His films are not so much entertainment but more philosophical. His films are uncompromising meditations on human nature and the existential purpose of existence which closely resemble the themes of Ingmar Bergman and Robert Bresson. He once said, “I am only interested in the views of two people: one is called Bresson and one called Bergman." He had a profound undercurrent of spirituality which was enough to get him into trouble with the Soviet authorities, who cut and criticized his films, and eventually drove him into exile. He consciously embodied the idea of a Great Filmmaker, making works that were uncompromisingly serious and ambitious, with no regard whatever for the audience, what the audience wanted or box office records. When watching The Mirror you really have to sit and listen because you can hear similar sounds that he repeats in the backgrounds of all of his work. The Mirror has nature like diagetic sounds of dripping of water or rain (especially in the scene between Maria and the doctor's wife), the sound of birds, fire burning, doorways, window drapes blowing, and of birds chirping. Mirrors is visually stunning as well and very philosophical with his questions of the existence of human nature.
This film is a beautiful collage of images that show several generations of fathers, mothers, and sons that evolve through the use of flashbacks, flash forwards, dreams, and newsreel footage as the film is created through chromatic and rhythmically fluid shifts within time. It's hypnotic and haunting images are also in conjunction with narrative poetry, which can be only compared to the literary works of poetry. Tarkovsky also includes documentary footage mixed into the story, as the director reconstructions a form of Russian history which can help define the memories, dreams, and the character's and put them into a form of context and in a place of time within history. Tarkovsky's use of nature in creating these dreams and memories is captivating and the symbolic sights and sounds are like the layering of several different works of paintings. To sum it up, Tarkovsky's The Mirror is a reflection into the soul of the director, in search of his own spirituality, and the connections to the truths of life. It explores tragic childhood traumas and abandonment, alienation and emotional isolation between mother and son, and painful regrets of past mistakes between husband and wife, father and mother, and father and son. The Mirror has grown in reputation over many years and not only is it considered one of the great art films of the cinema but it was also ranked 9th in Sight and Sound 's 2012 directors poll of the best films ever made. The beautiful ending to The Mirror reminds me of Terrance Malick's ending to his poetic masterpiece The Tree of Life. The ending of The Mirror is taken in the prewar time frame, and seems to combine sections of all three timelines and all the character's taken from all of Aleksei's memories, as they all reunite and live happily and in content. I believe this ending brings together all the happiest moments of Aleksei's life, as everyone he has loved and cared for can for one last time be reunited together before his death into the afterlife. A film like The Mirror is such a transcendent experience because everyone can relate to the images Tarkovsky presents on the screen. Everyone had a childhood full of sadness and happiness, had repressed secrets and emotional pain, memories of finding their first love and the loss of them, regrets and failures on past mistakes that they wish they could get back and do over, and the innocent times as a adolescent before they were introduced to the harsh bleak truths of the adult world. The Mirror can also be looked at as a reflection of the tormented soul of the artist himself, as mirrors are presented several times in the film, similar to a prism or cube, in which it not only gives the characters he created a way to contemplate their thoughts, emotions and feelings, but also for Tarkovsky to contemplate his demons as an artist himself.