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Mirror, the [Import]

Margarita Terekhova , Filipp Yankovsky , Andrei Tarkovsky    Unrated   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
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Most helpful customer reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The challenging depths of memory and time Feb. 22 2004
By A Customer
In his films, Andrei Tarkovsky rarely gives the audience any help in grasping what is happening on the screen. He demands a level of attention and receptivity which is not always automatic with most audiences, since our viewing habits are formed by easier stuff. It's a bit like trying to read Heidegger or Kant after a life of reading nothing but pulp novels. In my estimation "Mirror" is his most difficult film. A depiction of the inner world of a dying man, the film jumps between different eras of the protagonist's life, with sometimes only very subtle connections between them. Shots are often composed for their emotional impact, rather than their narrative effect, the idea being that the audience will feel what the protagonist feels as he reflects on his life.
I often see films described as poetry, but here is a case where that comparison is most precise. Like poetry, layers of meaning are waiting to be discovered in this film. Each time I watch this film it affects me more and more. My last viewing, perhaps my tenth, was the most profound. I encourage everyone to give this film the time it demands, and deserves, because the rewards are great.
The quality of this dvd, like others have written, is not the best. The version put out by Artificial Eye in the U.K. is reported to be superior, and is probably the better choice if you have a multi-region player. I have given this disc 5/5 stars because the film is so great it overpowers the limitations of the disc, and there isn't a compellingly better version available in Region 1 at the moment.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant film, terrible DVD Oct. 27 2002
By Vlad
Having watched this movie since I was in my early teens, I have bought the DVD published by KINO ON VIDEO, and oh my, Andrei Tarkovsky must be rolling in his grave knowing what they did to his masterpiece.
For those of you who don't speak Russian, I feel very very very bad for you, because of the terrible translation of the movie. Aside from the poems in the movie, that were previously translated by the professionals, the translation sounds as though it was done by fifth-graders. And not just because it is done in the high-school level English. HALF of the speech is not translated at all--a lot of important chatter is completely missing in the subtitles. Many things are oversimplified and revealed, instead of letting the viewer dig them out him/herself. Those of you who don't understand Russian are doomed to be tortured by such translation and never to reveal the true beauty and meaning of the original script. Having read all of the subtitles, I understood a lot of things in a wrong way, different from the way they were intended in the first place, and had zero satisfaction from the movie. Thank [deity] I'm Russian.
The ugly yellow subtitles can NOT be removed--they will stay on the screen forever while I watch the movie and irritate and upset me with the abovementioned crimes against Art.
The supposedly "black and white" scenes, which originally had a silver-ish quality to them, and some were in sepia, are now in plain B&W a la Fellini's La Strada. I used to have a feeling that the bushes were made out of steel and silver, but not on this DVD.
DVD has ZERO extras, and thank [deity] they divided the movie into chapters for easy scene access, but even there they managed to screw up.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Do not miss the plot Oct. 26 2009
The points made by other reviewers about this film's nonlinearity and being much like poetry are, of course, valid. I remember seeing it for the first time back in the 70s and realising that I was in the presence of a radically new kind of art: exciting and powerful but also almost alien, as if the film had been imported from Mars. Then the world cinema started to catch up little by little, but as the 80s turned into the 90s the mainstream went simplistic again, and today's young viewers of the 'Mirror' are, in all likelihood, having the very same thoughts about a film from Mars. We can only guess whether the new language of cinema introduced by Tarkovsky 35 years ago will ever be widely adopted.

However, there is a coherent story there too - and its existence is often missed or even vehemently denied. It is essentially the life story of the narrator, who never appears in the frame, but through whose eyes many of the scenes are presented. The man has his share of human flaws, yet his perception is particularly sharp, and his mind and spirit are attuned to the history and destiny of his country and to the cultural heritage of the humankind - the latter represented in the film by the music and visual references to famous paintings, which elevate the action and place it in the global context. There are repeated hints in the film that these personal qualities - a mixed blessing to put it mildly - run in the family and hence will go on even though the narrator dies in his 40s. The words of the smoking doctor in the deathbed scene (who is played by the co-author of the screenplay) are mistranslated in the English subtitles, but the key part comes across: the man is dying because there are such things as memory and conscience.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting, Cinematic Poetry
What a brilliant work of cinema. A haunting, beautiful film.
Published on July 19 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to view only once
I admit that I was not properly prepared when I first watched "The Mirror" (or "Mirror" or "The Looking Glass" or whatever it's really supposed to be... Read more
Published on April 13 2004 by dm
5.0 out of 5 stars Breathtaking! Buy this movie.
One of the most moving and beautiful films I've ever seen. Contrary to what I'd expected, I found it pretty easy to follow. Sensual AND spiritual. Imaginative AND realistic. Read more
Published on Jan. 13 2004 by Draftsman
5.0 out of 5 stars Unsurpassed Beauty
Be sure to read Vlad's review of the shoddy quality of this DVD. As a non-Russian speaker, I am essentially spared the awful knowledge of just what has been done to this... Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2003 by Snow Leopard
4.0 out of 5 stars Hey ! Hey ! Hold your horses !
This is NOT the best film by Andrei Tarkovsky . The best ones was :
1. Stalker
2. Solaris
3. Andrei Rublev
This one was one of the earliest . Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2002 by Vlad
5.0 out of 5 stars Have a good look....
The Mirror is one of the most accessible Tarkovsky's films. I can recommend viewers to start with this film before progressing to other Tarkovsky's oeuvre. Read more
Published on Aug. 6 2002 by "shusd"
4.0 out of 5 stars s-titles
Subtitles are "glued" to the screen, there is no possible way to turn them off, this idiocy spoils the greatnes of the visual sequence...
Published on April 5 2002
2.0 out of 5 stars The slowest movie ever made?
First of all. I love Tarkovskij's movies (most of them) but this one is really something different. The film has not been panned and scanned it was shot in full frame ratio which... Read more
Published on March 4 2002 by "gralle"
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, different, thought-provoking...
The Mirror is an interesting and different movie.
Billed as an intensely personal tale of growing up in Russia in WWII -- it is this -- but this is not what makes the movie... Read more
Published on Jan. 20 2002 by zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
4.0 out of 5 stars Pleasures of the Ineffable
As with all work by the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky, "The Mirror" is an enigmatic, not quite describable film composed of finely honed imagery and evocative... Read more
Published on Dec 5 2001 by Charles S. Tashiro
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