17 October, 2006


One of Jess Franco's key films in the rather obscure 1973 production, AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO, a harrowing psychodrama of the downward spiral of a young woman (Emma Cohen) into madness and murder. Brilliantly acted, scored and directed it was defiled by Franco himself at the behest of French coproducer Robert de Nesle, who prevailed upon the director to shoot sex inserts which distort the form of the original and shatter its spectral mood. This was finally released under the French title, LE MIROIR OBSCENE, and should be avoided as much as AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO should be sought out. The final scene when the mirror is shattered and a vortex of evil is unleashed is reminiscent of one of the most famous sequences in a certain film by Orson Welles (whom Franco collaborated with on CHIMES AT MIDNIGHT and the unfinished TREASURE ISLAND). If Welles' cinema, starting with CITIZEN KANE, is one of smoke and mirrors, the central image of Jess Franco's filmography is the mirror which becomes a window into a secret, parallel world: The World of Jess Franco.
MISS MUERTE, NECRONOMICON, EUGENIE DE SADE,  LORNA THE EXORCIST, NIGHTMARES COME AT NIGHT, SHINING SEX, and many more of his films have key scenes where the female protagonist confronts her reflected reality in a mirror resulting in the kind of instantaneous consciousness-altering frisson which is a kind of Franco trademark. Just as his later films reflect his previous works and he returns to the same characters, themes, stories and images over and over and over, there is no vanishing point in the films and career of Jess Franco. A dangerous passage though a hall of mirrors from which there is no easy exit. 
We hope that someday AL OTRO LADO DEL ESPEJO will get the kind of deluxe DVD presentation which it deserves.

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