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A Question About Movie Technique:


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how do movie makers manage to film reflections on a mirror without getting themselves reflected in the mirror? I am particularly struck by that amazing climax of that Orson Welles movie in which Welles and Rita Hayworth are reflected multiple times in a multitude of funhouse mirrors.

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There are many techniques used.


For example, in the 1931 Fredric March version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, he looks into a mirror near the beginning of the film. The camera seems to be located either behind him or at his eye-level point of view, looking into the mirror where we see only his reflection but no camera.


In this case, there is no mirror and there is no reflection. Only a big picture frame and a big square hole cut in the wall, and what we see is him but not as a reflection. He is on the other side of the wall, looking at the camera through the picture frame. So there is no mirror.




And the same trick is used later in that film.




Watch closely. He picks up a beaker in his left hand and walks towards a mirror. Notice that there are three black ink stains on the left side of his shirt, which is on the right side of the movie screen as he walks.


Next, notice when we see him in the mirror, he has the beaker in his RIGHT hand, while the ink stains are still on the LEFT side of his shirt, although we see them in the false "reflection" on the right side of the movie screen. In this case, there is NO mirror in this scene. We are seeing the real him, but not as a reflection in a mirror.


This scene seems like a mirror image as far as the beaker is concerned, but not as far as the stains are concerned. And don't let the two candlesticks fool you. There are two of them but NO reflection of either of them.


Next, we look around the room and then go back to the mirror, where we see him again, but, again, THERE IS NO MIRROR. The ink stains are still on the left side of his shirt and the right side of the movie screen.


Next, the camera dollies in from his rear, showing both him and his reflection in a real mirror, and notice that in the mirror, the ink stains have jumped to the other side of his shirt (they've jumped to the left side of the movie screen), which would be the correct side because this scene IS a reflection of him looking into a real mirror.




Edited by: FredCDobbs on Feb 26, 2014 4:30 PM

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Found this on the Images Journal site:

" And the film's spectacular fun house finale required the construction of a 125-foot slide that began at the roof of Columbia's biggest soundstage and ended in an eighty-foot pit. The mirror maze in the sequence used 2,912 square feet of glass -- eighty mirrors, each seven feet high, and another twenty four distorting mirrors, all rigged as one-way mirrors, so they could be filmed through."



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If you think the mirror scenes in *Lady from Shanghai,* are something,you should check out Jean Cocteau's 1950 film *Orpheus.* The poet Orpheus falls in love with the Princess of Death. He enters and exits her world by passing through mirrors. In one scene, the "mirror" is actually a pool of mercury, so he can stick his hand into it.

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