Mirror (1975)

Haunting and challenging, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Mirror isn’t an easy film. It’s intriguing, beautiful and poetic as it depicts the dreams and memories of a dying poet. We rarely see the narrator of the film. We see his memories of life before and during WWII as well as conversations in the 1960s and 1970s. 

Rather than a linear plot, the film consists of dreams, images (plenty of mirrors are shown). The most compelling scenes for me focussed on his ex-wife and their conversations about custody of their teenage son. The film drew me in and mystified me. I felt that I need to do some research to make more sense of Mirror so that I can better understand it. I understand that a lot of movie lovers don’t have the time or patience to invest in decoding a movie so it’s not for everyone, but if you’re curious and willing to be perplexed as well as mystified, watch Mirror. Your library probably has it or can get it. 

Here’s a video explaining Mirror should you accept the challenge of watching.

Only Yesterday

When 27 year old Taeko takes a vacation from her office job in Tokyo, childhood memories flood in, making the young woman take stock of her life. Taeko loves the countryside and jumps into working in the fields with her grandmother. This passion mystifies her sisters.

In the country, Taeko is haunted by memories from her 5th grade self. She looks back at the gossiping classmates, her outsider status at home and how she missed out on a chance to act because her father disproved of theatrics. She was and still is a dreamer, who was at times, kind, selfish, a follower, a betrayer and a doormat. In essence, Taeko lived through the slings and arrows of tween life.

Romance almost buds when Taeko meets Toshio, a young farmer who’s left the city to start an organic farm, before most people had heard of them. Toshio and Taeko have a bond and become fast friends. They both love rural life, but when urged to consider Toshio in terms of romance, Taeko can’t handle it.

This animated film has lush, detailed illustrations of scenery. Seeing the homes, the trains, forest and details like the burners for mosquito repellant, the tea kettle or kerosene heaters, makes me remember my time in Japan. I thought the artists drew the children better than the older characters, but that is a mild criticism. Also, I wish they had kept this film in Japanese and had subtitles or offered a choice for dubbing. That way, I could have escaped into the movie further still. All in all, Only Yesterday is a beautiful film that’s best considered as a contemplation of the past. The ending isn’t very satisfying, but I think viewers should consider this a depiction of a life, rather than a story with a definite end.