Reflecting on Reflections: Cinema’s Complex Mirror Shots.

In: Martine Beugnet, Allan Cameron, Arild Fetveit (Hgs.): Indefinite Visions: Cinema and the Attractions of Uncertainty. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP., 2017


This article investigates the effects mirrors in films can have on the composition of a filmic image, the staging of a scene and the viewing activities of the spectators. It discusses four such effects: (1) So-called ‘complex mirror shots’ can modify how spectators look onto the picture as a flat composition by way of a quasi-transformation of the screen shape. (2) They can function as a magnetizing frame-within-the-frame that channels the viewer’s look into the anterior depth of the mirror. (3) By referring spectators to off-screen space and thus making them look beyond the image into its lateral and posterior depth, some specific examples also allow for an intricately layered experience of perception and imagination, challenging and complicating efforts to “read” the image. (4) Finally, mirrors may be a source of spatial complication and can even lead to a full-blown disorientation regarding the status of the image, thus transforming the way viewers understand, problematise and look at the filmic image as such.

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