One of the most beautifully constructed films ever created, Andrei Tarkovsky’s semi-autobiographical and mesmerising composition of a dying man’s dreams and recollections from various moments in his life, juxtaposed with pivotal moments in Soviet history, really does make this masterpiece feel like something created from the bottom of his soul.
Tarkovsky came from a cultured background - his father a well-known poet, his mother a cultivated book editor. Weaving the ups and downs of their lives into the broader canvas of 20th Century Russian history, whilst at the same time stretching forward to the (then, 1970s) present and an honest account of his own failed first marriage, The Mirror plays out like extraordinary demonstration of the freedom of thought. The boldness of its editing, the beauty of its astonishing visual symbolism, its shifts from sepia tones to black-and-white to color, all added up to make the film, aesthetically, unique. And although the plot is not easily ascertainable (if you try to analyse it you might get hopelessly lost!), our advice upon watching is don't think, but feel.
In terms of its critical reception, in recent years at least, it has become his most revered work – placing 9th in Sight & Sound Magazine 2012 Directors’ poll of the greatest films of all time. Full of Tarkovsky’s characteristic stark imagery and symbolism, it remains undeniably one of the most innovative and bold films in cinema history in its portrayal of the nature of human memory and how it profoundly speaks on a person’s existence.
- The 18:00 screening on Wed 20 July will feature an introduction and Q&A with artist and filmmaker John Akomfrah who will be talking about the influence of Mirror on his own work and Tarkovsky’s innovative use of sound. A founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective, Akomfrah's work has been shown in museums and exhibitions around the world including most recently his exhibition Vertigo Sea at Arnolfini.