The Little Foxes (1941)
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The Use of Reflective Images in THE LITTLE FOXES
extensive use of mirrors and reflected images in THE LITTLE FOXES, both to
expand the possibilities of shot composition and for dramatic effect.
Below are several examples.
Alexandra and Addie drive by the bank in their carriage and have a brief
conversation with Harold the doorman who is polishing the plaque outside
Horace's bank. Because Wyler
chooses to show the carriage reflected in the shiny plaque instead of
cutting away from it to show a direct shot of Zanny and Addie, the shot doesn't
overemphasize the passing conversation (about what the Giddens' are serving
for dinner) and instead serves as an introduction for the bank.
One of the few direct uses of a mirror in the film. Regina pauses
to examine herself in the bedroom mirror and reflect on her appearance, how
she has changed, and what she sees in herself that is not immediately obvious to
others on the surface.
Addie washes Alexandra's hair and Regina (reflected in the right
window) intrudes on both the scene and the conversation.
Yet another atypical dinner table shot, this one taking advantage of a
mirror on the wall behind the table to show the spatial relationship between
the characters at the table and their reactions to the conversation, while
at the same time emphasizing Ben's condescending verbal abuse of Aunt Birdie
in the foreground. Note also that whereas the camera should be reflected in
the mirror on the wall over Alexandra's right shoulder, it is not,
preserving the integrity of the shot.
The living room after dinner. Another creative use of mirrors in
shot composition to allow all the characters' faces to be seen without
having them all face the camera in an artificially arranged, fully frontal
The shaving scene, and one of the most inspired uses of reflected images
in the history of film. The juxtaposed mirrors
capture the faces of both actors even though they are facing away from each
other, and captures them from the point of view of the characters
Leo sneaks down to the bank at night to steal the bonds from Horace's
safe deposit box, and though no one else sees him, the audience does,
as his image is reflected in the bank's shiny plaque -- ironically emphasizing the official
name of the bank, a "trust" company, which Leo is about to violate.
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