special-event-mirror-zerkalo-oct-23rdTarkovsky’s acclaimed and highly autobiographical Mirror has a non-linear narrative that covers the USSR from the 1930s to the 1960s. An elderly man, on his deathbed, recalls his past life in a time of great change. Tarkovsky’s father, Arseny, reads from his original poetry during one segment. An epic film of great beauty, but the use of the actors in more than one role makes this a challenging film. Described by Tarkovsky as “ … a film based in its entirety on personal experience. And for that reason I am convinced it will be important to those who see it.” (Cert U)
Dir: Andrei Tarkovsky 108 mins USSR 1975
We welcome, once again, John Riley, a specialist in Russian film history, to introduce this film.

Programme Notes

Mirror (Zerkalo)
USSR 1975 108m Cert U

Introduced and discussed by John Riley

John Riley has become a regular visitor to ABCD over the last 22 years, introducing many Soviet and post-Soviet Russian films including earlier this year Defence Counsel Sedov, while in 2006 he introduced Tarkovsky’s Ivan’s Childhood. He is the author of Discover Film Music and Dmitri Shostakovich: A Life in Film.

A middle-aged man approaches death and reviews his life. In doing this, the film tells the history of modern Russia. Mirror came ninth in the 2012 Sight and Sound Directors’ Top Ten Poll.

“A film based in its entirety on personal experience. And for that reason, I’m convinced,
it will be important to those who see it.” Jonathon Crocker, BBCi Films

Aleksei – Innokenti Smoktunovsky
Lisa – Alla Demidova
Printery director – Nikolai Grinko
The Father – Oleg Yankovsky
The Mother – Margarita Terekhova
Ignat/Aleksei (12yrs) – Ignat Daniltsev
Aleksei (5yrs) – Filipp Yankovsky
Mother of Alexsei at 12yrs – Larisa Tarkovskaya

Director – Andrei Tarkovsky
Producer – Erik Waisberg
Writers – Andrei Tarkovsky, Alexandr Misharin
Poems – Andrei Tarkovsky
Cinematography – Georgi Rerberg
Music – Eduard Artemev
Production Design – Nelli (Nina) Fomina
Editor – Lyudmila Feyginova


“A really great film. There are not many films whose poetry and music send me into a trance, only to be woken by shots of amazing artistic imagery and wonderful soundtrack. Sent me into an hypnotic trance. Amazing in every way.”

“Like a dream. Every shot was a work of art, although I can’t say I understood it. The camera retreating into the forest at the end was brilliant.”

“A beautiful, sensitive film – but thank goodness for John’s opening explanation. I loved it – much food for thought.”

“An excellent piece of artistic cinema that is better watched in a wakening state rather than in the ‘dreamy’ state of the film itself. Thankfully, John’s academically honest introduction made sense out of Tarkovsky’s most art-house offering.”

“Haunting, mesmeric and full of beautiful images – a celebration of memory.”

“Incomprehensible but beautiful”

“Totally incomprehensible but great music”

“Compelling if baffling”

“Enigmatic – I prefer to leave it as such.”

“Forget meaning – it was great.”

“Dispelled the myth that Russian women are ugly.”

“I was spellbound by the meadow scene and the music.”

“A great feat of editing! I thought this was the essence of the film, with the strong connection to the idea of editing one’s own life and memories. The sound seemed as important as the visual images.”

“Dream or nightmare? A difficult film.”

“Bewildering ….”

“A sort of anti-film? Perhaps I fell asleep and missed something important ….”

“Surreal, illogical and too much crap poetry. The camera-work was nice, though.”

“I’m afraid I got absolutely nothing from this film.”

“Wind and mirrors?”


A:17, B:5, C:9, D:7, E:1 to give 69%