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Exploring the recurring use of mirrors in Ingmar Bergman's films

Kogonada is a South Korean filmmaker who is also known for his wonderful video essays and cinematic super-cuts of the works of the great filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick and Yasujiro Ozu. We have already explored his wonderful video on the symmetry of Wes Anderson’s signature shots but, for this feature, we take a look at Kogonada’s super-cut of the significant use of mirrors in Ingmar Bergman’s films with the narration of Sylvia Plath’s ‘Mirror’ superimposed on it and Vivaldi playing in the background.

Mirrors are an interesting motif in Bergman’s works. They act as an intermediary between the real and the symbolic. Long, introspective shots of Bergman’s characters in front of mirrors help highlight the central problem of identity. The iconic mirror scene in Persona (1967) is a haunting example of this where we no longer know what is constructed and what is real. Kogonada’s cut features scenes from multiple Bergman films like Fanny & Alexander (1982) and Port of Call (1948). The video can also be seen as a tribute to actresses like Harriet Andersson and Liv Ullmann, two of Bergman’s favourites.

It is fascinating to note that Sylvia Plath herself was a great admirer of Bergman’s films. She even based her poem “Three Women” on Bergman’s film So Close to Life (1958) that she saw in London in 1961 or 1962.

Watch the video here: