Sunday, August 17, 2008
Perhaps one should not think of labels like a movie or a film for Tarkovsky's Mirror. It would be an injustice to do so. Mirror is like a tapestry to life or a way of looking at it and the looseness of its structure resembles the unstructured, sudden and patternless winds of life or at least most lives. Since life is generally lived simultaneously in the past and present, Mirror is able to achieve the same resonance, encapsulating within its space, the ardour and pain of previous lives.
There is not just one life that we can live on our own but multiple intertwined existences take hold of us. I has always been so, there is nothing else otherwise and we cannot recognize any other way. Each life has multiple facets and its own set of memories and casting an eye on events past is an automatic process in itself. In Mirror, the sweep includes the canvas of childhood, where everything starts and then the back and forth movement is ceaseless, within each scene there are numerous reverberations from the moments that are present seen as they are from every point of view, be they conscious or otherwise. The movements within a scene are multiple, the turning of a head in one direction leads to the childhood that was lost, the child walks to the woman who is his wife and then to somebody who is his mother.
It is raining outside, the window pane drips with rain, the wind blows the curtains, the bottle of glass falls, the lamplight tremors, the wind outside haunts the overgrown grass, we have returned to a melancholic corner, our memories jostle for space. The most melancholic woman with the saddest eyes who was my mother, the most beautiful woman who could have been my wife, razor sharp these memories, razor like their edges, you tell me, the wind comes, I, that man we do not see, he opens his fist and the bird flies away.
These are the movements of this cinema of poetry, each wave of memories engulfs the previous one. The cycles within the frames shift bringing only emotional isolation, interpersed with newsreel footage. Each moment that affords to give a vista dissolves into another one that is more obscure. The life that has gone by, any one's for that matter, how cannot it be a melancholy pursuit of lost time? The camera movements of Tarkovsky's Mirror are the scratchings of memory and the din of these movements is quite loud.
I think it is quite possible to watch Mirror without searching for symbols, as I think allegorical references would be a waste of time. There is no allegory except for each object that enhances its own place for us, for instance the milk jug that falls might have different resonance for individual viewers or none at all. There are these clear winds of memory that bring us face to face with loss which gives us pain that is only pain but in the present. It is thus quite possible to see the past in the light of events that have subsequently happened for the present now has become more painful. In Mirror, everything reminds of that dual reality.
Thus everything is seen through the mirror of time. The narrator's voice is only heard but he is not seen. His wife has beautiful and sad eyes, she grasps her melancholia with pained anguish. The son has grown up, the wife has grown old, identities merge, life has moved on, the man who was the barefoot boy is waiting to die. The narrator whose face we cannot see holds a bird that he releases suddenly, the bird flies out of the frame returning us to a washed out landscape that resembles the overgrown green grass, to the melancholic beautiful woman smoking in the beginning on the wooden fence rail. Everything is memory.
The glory and the most disconcerting aspect of Mirror is that each object has given us the focus to think of our memories so that with the characters, we too roll ahead and fall back on to what has happened to us. Or that what has happened to them has happened to us or is happening to us now. The winds and the nights are ours, the shattering glass mine, the broken window pane, the wind, the over grown grass.