I think Alan Watts said it best that,“When we think of a moment of time, when we think what we mean by the word “now”; we think of the shortest possible instant that is here and gone.” Similarly, I feel Tarkovsky uses a conjecture of Watts’s thought on time in his stunningly, poetically, visual film The Mirror. Essentially, it’s like watching a montage of someone’s life that’s being manipulated by pushing the narrative backwards and forwards through the movement of the film.
Also the use of slow motion is utilized in various scenes such as when the wind breezes through the buckwheat fields which conveys a feeling of strangeness. There are elegant panning shots that move intentionally slow, permitting you to linger on these moments as if Tarkovsky himself wants you to see and feel what’s going on in Alexei (the main protagonist’s) mind. Much of Alexei’s memories of his childhood coincide with historical elements that courses through three time periods from the 1930s up into the 1960s. Memories include various shots of his mother, and his childhood of living in his grandfather’s house.
There is also a period of time where Alexei is in some military school, and his troublesome behavior illustrates his lack of interest for rifle training. The narrative also pushes into the present, where Alexei is in a continuous argument with his wife, Natalia who also happens to look just like Alexei’s mother in previous scenes. In numerous pre war scenes, Alexei’s mother Maria or Masha is featured quite a bit such as when she’s seen in the country side sitting on a fence enjoying a cigarette, or when she scurries her way into her work at a printing shop convinced she’s made an error in one of her articles. There’s also the notable dream sequence, where Masha/Maria is washing her hair as water also seeps from the walls, as pieces of the ceiling fall to ground, is strongly poetic from a mental standpoint. Alexei trying to tell the audience that his relationship with his mother disturbing, weak, and not built on a strong foundation perhaps in the realm of communication.
Very much like a film camera, the mirror in all it’s obvious power reflects an image back that makes it’s existence known and then evaporates very much like a moment in time. Tarkovsky brilliantly uses this medium to convey how time can be used to reflect fractions of a moment and how it leaves an overwhelming impression on the audience. He enforces a sensational look into who a person is, what a person feels, and often thinks about very much what it means to be human. The Mirror is a riveting, inexplicable, art film that can’t fully be described in words, but instead leaves an intrinsic feeling that washes over you similarly to how time imprints on a person’s life.