I've watched my VHS copy of 'Mirror' around ten times and thought I 'knew' the film well enough. But the DVD is a revelation. The different film stocks and treatments -- washed-out colour, sepia, black & white, newsreel -- and Tarkovsky's pared-down images come through crisper than ever.
The sound is the real bonus, though. 'Mirror' mightn't have been recorded in 5:1 surround, but the new audio track reveals a side of the film I didn't even know existed: a deep, almost physiological soundtrack of eerie music and painstakingly placed effects that heightens the oneiric atmosphere by several notches and which was totally lost on VHS. I know there was cross-pollination of ideas between Tarkovsky and Kubrick, and aurally 'Mirror' now appears as a more subtle, subliminal version of '2001'. Unfortunately the closing (opening!) chorus from Bach's St John Passion still sounds distorted; but even that has its charm.
So I now have even greater admiration for what was already the finest film ever made about childhood and memory. Tarkovsky plays and plays on a handful of heart-stoppingly beautiful images, the sort we all have from our earliest youth -- luminous, sublime, terrifying, warming, sad -- the ones we can neither let go of nor fathom. The sense of desperately clinging to something that has lost all meaning is also brilliantly transferred into a series of acerbic, yet necessarily (for the time) oblique political comments. It is probably the most aesthetic film I have ever seen, in the sense of pure consciousness delighting in itself. (Do I pass the Tarkovsky-Fan Waffle Test?)
The only minor quibble is the new translation, which was done by a Russian, seemingly with a Russian-English dictionary. I'm sure it's faithful to the original, but it is sometimes grammatically obtuse and frequently unidiomatic. I don't know why Artificial Eye couldn't reuse the translation on the VHS version. It may be more serious a problem for those who don't already know 'Mirror', but please don't let it put you off one of the most profound artistic experiences you could have on film or elsewhere.