The Mirror - Andrei Tarkovsky

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The Mirror - Andrei Tarkovsky

The Mirror (Russian: ???????, Zerkalo) is a 1974 Russian film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky. It is loosely autobiographical, blending childhood memories, newsreel footage and poems by his father Arseny Tarkovsky. The film features Margarita Terekhova, Ignat Daniltsev, Tarkovsky's wife Larisa Tarkovskaya, Alla Demidova and Anatoli Solonitsyn and has a soundtrack by Eduard Artemyev.


The concept of The Mirror dates as far back as 1964, when Tarkovsky wrote down his 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. The first episodes of The mirror were written while Tarkovsky was working on Andrei Rublev. These episodes were published as a short story under the title A White Day in 1970. The title was taken from a 1942 poem by his father, Arseny Tarkovsky. 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.[4]

With the script being turned down by the film committee, Tarkovsky went on to make the 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 of Kodak film, corresponding to roughly three takes assuming a film length of 3000 meters.[5]

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 1984 while he was in Italy. One scene that was in the script but that was removed during shooting, was an interview 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 The Mirror.[6] 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.[7]


Filming began in September 1973 and ended in March 1974. The outdoor scenes were shot in Tutshkovo near Moscow. The indoor scenes were shot at the Mosfilm studio.[8]

The completed film was initially rejected by Filipp Ermash, the head of Goskino in July 1974. One reason given was 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.

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