As it floats through the life, recollections and imaginings of an unseen protagonist, Mirror is a film you feel like you’re remembering – or dreaming – even as you watch it.

In place of conventional plot, the film has the associative, undulating form of a poem or a symphony.

Its deft construction of movement and pause, drift and concision demonstrate its director Andrei Tarkovsky’s conception of cinema as “sculpting in time” – the inspiration for Season 3 of TANKtv.

“Just as a sculptor takes a lump of marble, and ... removes everything that is not a part of it — so the film-maker, from a ‘lump of time’ made up of an enormous, solid cluster of living facts, cuts off and discards whatever he does not need, leaving only what is to be an element of the finished film.”

While Tarkovsky experiments with his viewers’ experiences of time, he also delves into the complexities of his characters’ experiences of it: how nostalgia, anticipation, love, dread, boredom and ecstasy moderate its flow.


Tucked among the film’s transfixing images are clues to the intellectual and artistic life of its protagonist, including Pushkin, Bruegel – as well as poems by his father, Arseny Tarkovsky.

Calling a film “timeless” is a clichéd way to compliment it, but Mirror truly does seem to exist outside of time’s imposing parameters, offering an uncommon and lucid perspective onto what Tarkovsky called “the flame in which there lives the salamander of the human soul”. 

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