Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Orson Welles and mirrors

1/ These days I’ve been watching some Orson Welles.
To me, the ultimate B&W films to watch if you’re interested in cinematography are, off the top of my head:
8 ½
Citizen Kane
Ivan’s Childhood

2/ Did Orson Welles have a thing for mirrors?
I watched The Lady from Shanghai last night. Don’t watch this if you haven’t seen the film, because it’s the reveal and climax, or if you watch it, mute the clip:

The mirror shoot-out is the most famous scene from The Lady from Shanghai, and perhaps the best thing about it. Orson Welles’s films seem to always have interesting visuals.
It reminded me of the mirrors in Citizen Kane:

It’s not a fancy scene that is all style and no substance. There seem to be different interpretations—that the large mirrors reflect Kane’s vanity and narcissism, or that the scene emphasises Kane’s loneliness and his inability to get away from himself. To me, the image is a metaphor for all the different Kanes in different people’s stories (the entire film, after all, is about the fruitless search for the real Kane, the hopeless attempt to complete the jigsaw puzzle).
Citizen Kane is, in my opinion, a perfect film. It contains all kinds of techniques, all the things you need to learn about cinema. But it’s more than a bag of tricks, Citizen Kane is a masterpiece.


  1. Someday take a look at Max Ophuls's "Madame de..." aka "The Earrings of Madame de...," a gorgeous melodrama packed with mirror shots. He may well have gotten the idea from Welles.

    The cinematographer, Christian Matras, also did Grand Illusion and some other beauties, so maybe I should give him the credit.

    1. All right. I'll check it out.
      Speaking of mirrors, have you seen The Double Lives of Veronique? There are also lots of mirrors and other kinds of reflections in it.