“Mirrors are the doorways through which death enters the world.”

 

Reflections on reflections: 

Welles loves his multiple images.

Rear Window

THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS.

With all these mirrors, it's rather hard to tell...

THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI.

Looking Glass

TOUCH OF EVIL. I like the way Welles mixes from the above shot to the below: for a brief moment we get two shots with four images, all at once.

Windows of the soul

In spite of this enthusiasm for reflections, and those long lap dissolves in KANE, and various other devices for fragmenting the frame, Welles never got interested in split screen, unlike his fellow Wisconsan Nick Ray. I suspect split screen, like wide-screen, was seen by Welles an aspect of the modernity he so disliked. (On ‘Scope: “I don’t believe the public deserves anything bigger than they’ve been getting.”) That’s why I suspect TOUCH OF EVIl was actually composed for the old 4:3 ratio, despite being cropped to something like 1:1.85 in the restoration.

But Welles did shoot ‘Scope once, when he took over direction on THE SOUTHERN STAR, a rather trashy African adventure story, when director Sidney Hayers got sick. The opening sequence, shot by Welles, is full of dynamism and wit in its zippy reframings, resembling Sergio Leone as much as Welles, and it’s photographed by Raoul Coutard so the colour is really pretty — see it if you get the chance.*

In a state of Andress

*Apart from scene one, and Welles’ amusing gay villain, the film has little that’s memorable except an amazing line mis-reading by Ursula Andress. As she splashes around an African river, no doubt contracting bilharzia and cholera, during her obligatory nude scene, she shouts at George Segal, “I am trrrrying to whush away a memnory!”

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4 Responses to ““Mirrors are the doorways through which death enters the world.””

  1. No line every uttered by the magnificent Ursula is a misreading.

    Love her “Oh Mista Gwamme!” in Perfect Friday ( a gem)

  2. I couldn’t get on with Perfect Friday for some reason, but I’d love to see Hall’s 1968 film of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. with Judy Dench in the buff as Titania. It seems to have vanished.
    I see he made a Rebecca DeMornay erotic thriller! Somehow I missed that…
    Was nice to see Ursula again in Cremaster, a good thing for an icon to be in.

  3. Mirror mirror. Oh how I wish that someone would adapt Robert Heinlein’s creepy novella The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag which features quite unsettling use of mirrors. I believe John Carpenter alluded to this (amongst other pleasing allusions – Quatermass mostly) in his Prince of Darkness .

  4. I should try the Heinlein. I couldn’t bear Starship Troopers and I read a bit of his later stuff which was off-putting. Have never experienced Stranger in a Strange Land, which as a post-hippie I really should try. But I’m more of a Philip K Dickhead.

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