Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 22nd, 2008
Theatrical Release Date: Spain, 1973
Alternate Titles: Al otro lado del espejo, Le Miroir obscène, Obscene Mirror
Approximate running time: 80 minutes (Spanish Version), 87 minutes (XXX Italian Version)
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Widescreen
Director: Jesus Franco
Writers: Jesus Franco, Nicole Guettard
Cinematograper: Antonio Millán
Composer: Adolfo Waitzman
Cast: Emma Cohen, Howard Vernon, Philippe Lemaire, Françoise Brion, Simón Andreu, Alice Arno, María Bassó, Chantal Broquet, Carmen Carbonell, Nicole Guettard, Ramiro Oliveros, Lina Romay, Roger Sarbib, Monica Swinn, Ada Tauler, Robert Woods
There are three versions of The Other Side of the Mirror, a Spanish version “Al otro lado del espejo”, a French version “Le Miroir obscene” and an Italian version “Lo Specchio del piacere”. The Spanish version features a slightly different plot and all the hardcore inserts that are present in the other two versions in not included in the Spanish cut of this film. The plot for the Spanish very revolves around a woman whose father commits suicide on the eve of her wedding. The shock of her fathers’ suicide pushes her over the edge. Unable to cope with her lose she kills any man who tries to get close to her. The plot for the Italian version is similar to that of the Spanish version with the main difference being a sister who commits suicide instead of the father. The hardcore inserts in the French and Italian versions add nothing to the story. These hardcore inserts also disrupt the flow of the story.
The basic elements of the plot a woman being haunted by a mirror in which she sees the reflections of her dead father (Spanish version) and sister (Italian version) after their suicides is one of the more fascinating that Jess Franco has worked with. The story which at times is very abstract is greatly benefited by Emma Cohen’s performance in the lead role of Ana. Emma Cohen is Spanish actress who more notable films’ include Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula, the Cannibal Man, Cut-Throats Nine and Horror Rises from the Tomb. Emma Cohen who had previous worked with Jess Franco in a minor role for Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. She does a remarkable job in her only starring role for Jess Franco. Her performance ranks among the finest to ever appear in any Franco film. The Italian version of The Other Side of the Mirror includes nude scenes with Emma Cohen that is not present in the Spanish version.
The Spanish version of The Other Side of the Mirror is widely regarded as the closet to Franco’s vision. Even though the alternate versions of this film include footage that was shot by Jess Franco (albeit at a later date) these additional moments dilute Jess Franco’s original message. They were put into the film in for nothing more than to be titillating or shocking. Both of which they are not. Visually The Other Side of the Mirror is one of Jess Franco’s more inventive films. The use of the mirror to illuminate the loss of a loved one is the films strongest and most allegorical moments. Jess Franco who only a few years before lost his muse Soledad Miranda tries to escapes the shadow of his former muse only to be engulfed once again by her ever looming presence. The themes of loss in The Other Side of the Mirror feel like Jess Franco is attempting to exorcise the specter of his former muse. Instead of Jess Franco looking through a mirror like the lead character he is looking through the lens of his camera haunted by the loss of his muse Soledad Miranda.
Cast in the role of Ana’s father is one of Jess Franco’s most frequent collaborators Howard Vernon. His role while very brief is none the less very powerful. Lina Romay who only appears in the French and Italian versions of the film in cast in the role of Ana’s sister Marie. Her performance is forgettable as it is mostly limited to her rolling around naked or making love. Two other performances of note are Simón Andreu (The Blood Spattered Bride, Death Walks at Midnight) and Alice Arno (Female Vampire, Tender and Perverse Emanuelle). Outside of Emma Cohen and Howard Vernon’s performances no one else really stands out performance wise. The score for The Other Side of the Mirror is very effective and the motif Ana sings whiles she plays the piano is hauntingly beautiful. The score was composed by Adolfo Waitzman who had previously worked with Jess Franco one before on the film Residence for Spies.
Ultimately The Other Side of the Mirror stands out as one of Jess Franco’s more complex films with is layered subtext and lyrical imagery.