42 of 47 people found the following review helpful
Have a good look ...,
This review is from: Mirror [DVD]  (DVD)
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.
Many critics consider Mirror Tarkovsky's autobiography, but it is unquestionably more than that. The film has visual beauty, social pathos, thoughts on the role of Russia in the Western civilization, existential questions and a place for magic in everyday life. I would not like to give detailed examples here: viewing will be less interesting, and part of the wonder of the film is to find these and many other clues on one's own. If the viewer goes on to other Tarkovsky's output, he will be rewarded by many shots and purvasive themes that "travel" from one film to the next and thus constitute undeniable signature of this director.
One very important point I would like to discuss is Tarkovsky's views on Russia. Perhaps, these can be the least understood by Western viewer who enjoy the film while still loosing historical and philosiphical context of Tarkovsky's thinking. Tarkovsky followed Pushkin's contention that Russia played a historical role in the destiny of Western Civilization by stopping Tatar-Mongol aggression from reaching the Western Europe. While havindg stopped the aggression, Russia was broken under its force and had to develop its own unique way of life. In Tarkovsky's opinion, this unique role did not stop with and did not depend on the communist ideology prevailing in Russia at the time. This is a clue for a documentary part in the film where Russian soldiers try to hold a crowd of Maoist Chinese from crossing the Russian border. By the way, documentaries were used by Tarkovsky not as a modernist tool, but as an opportunity to express himself where other means would be disallowed by the USSR regime (this is a response to Mr. Tashiro comment on these documentaries). For example, there is another documentary episode that serves to express a nostalgic feeling for the foreign land (Spain in that case) by Spanish communist refugees to the USSR. Feelings like that were not allowed to be publicly expressed at the time, so documentary was a special tool. Having said all this, the film transcends its own idelology (if you find this ideology unpalatable).
I have certain sympathy with those viewers who would criticise Tarkovsky for somewhat didactic quality of his art. Tarkovsky's films are pushing its spiritual content as well as his view of good and wrong on the viewer directly and without subtlety. One thing to remember though is that his films (and Mirror is no exception) are a lot greater than the sum of ideological / philosophical parts.
Have a good look then...