8. Mirror (Andrey Tarkovsky, USSR, 1975)
This film is exactly in the middle of Tarkovsky's filmography: he shot three feature films before it and three - after it. And I do believe it's the highest point of his work. It's one of the most complex and multilayer films in cinema history and simultaneously very simple and clear movie: it speaks with a viewer in the universal language of cinema. Originally the screenplay "White, White Day" (this working title of the movie is the name of the poem of the director's father - a celebrated Russian poet Arseniy Tarkovsky) appeared. It was a story about Tarkovsky's mother. He said: "I can't bear with my mother's death. I will protest against it and will prove that she's immortal. I am going to convince other people of her being unique". Later this idea developed into the plotless film that became one of the provement of the fact that cinema is an absolutely equitable to literature, music and paintings form of art (another Tarkovsky's idee fixe).
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
This words of Dante's Divine Comedy could be an epigraph to the film. Do you remember final travelling of camera into the forest? I think it's not accidental - it symbolizes author's look: Tarkovsky was "midway upon the journey of his life" and "found himself within a forest dark". But in the end of the movie he sees an exit from this dark forest: his present and his past step together. So, the relation between the present and the past is in the base of Tarkovsky's philosophy. Conscience and memory (recollections are one of the main constituents of the movie like in Otto e Mezzo and Amarcord) are the two things that can help man to understand himself.
The gist of events in the movie is very complex: it contains the present life of unnamed and unfeatured main hero (we can only hear his voice), his recollections, dreams and newsreel: Tarkovsky's childhood fell on the WWII. So, by means of his childhood story (told only with the most bright points - the whole story remained unsaid) he said about the hard history of his own country.
Reticence is one of the most important features of the film: it makes the movie similar to the poem, where images (cinematography is undoubtedly marvellous: nobody could shoot nature in such a beautiful way!), mood, athmosphere and metaphors are more important than plot or formal narrative structure. In the movie we can hear voice of the Tarkovsky's father: he recites his poetry. It's not accidental: Andrey Tarkovsky acclaimed himself as a cinematic poet, successor of the Russian poetry traditions. And he was a real poet who felt relation between space and time, multidimensional and multilayer nature of time, strange and complex interpretation of time and space in our memory and in the art of cinema...