When the child first catches sight of her image in a mirror, she sees herself as though she were another person. The 'recognition' of this framed coherent being as oneself is the first step in the creation of that fiction which is the Ego: the infant, as yet without full motor co-ordination, none the less perceives herself as a fully expressive whole. Carola Klein filmed her daughter Leonie in the process of such 'recognitions' in the early months of childhood. Mirror Phase is literally an analysed home movie, the 8mm print blown up into a perceptible 16mm grain. Choral voice-overs, dual camerawork, and the fractioning of the screen suggest that we also can misrecognise our relation to film: that cinema too can function as a 'specular ego'. Such work has obvious debts to Laura Mulvey's writing and film-making; and Mirror Phase is something like Riddles of the Sphinx from the child's perspective. But where Riddles attempted to question film's use of narrative and character, Mirror Phase is fixed within the actual fact of Leonie's development and her parents' evident personalities - a return to the charm of the home movie, but a crucial restraint on the film's analysis.
Cast and crew