Posted by: smcht9 | March 10, 2010

Review: ‘The Mirror’

It is a reflection that brings this tiny Italian Alps village together.  Director David Christensen gives us a modern fairy tale without the castle, glitter or arch-nemesis.

For 83 days each year, the town of Viganella is in shadow.  In the winter months the sun is too low to peak up over the mountains and cast its rays over Viganella, so the village’s inhabitants hibernate.  The social importance that a community needs in order to grow is extinguished so to speak, since there is no sun to shine down on the valley floor.

The town mayor, Piefranco Midali, wants to fix this.  So he hires an architect, and together they charismatically design a giant mirror built on the side of the mountain, to reflect the light that the sun puts out.  And like Colonel Sanders and his famous recipe chicken, or Duchamp and his toilet for art, people laugh at Midali because it is a simple mirror.  Seriously?  A mirror?  It just sounds too commonplace, too mundane.

It is clear that this small town is not technologically savvy, which gives Mayor Midali tribulations on his quest for light. The villagers fill their daily lives with nature, and are not considering the next movie at the box office, or the new cell phone that just came out on the market.  One local puts headphones into his ears and humorously declares, “Interesting.”

Christensen used lighting as an important element in the documentary.  But he didn’t have to try to hard.  Indeed the village was in shadow throughout much of the film.  Whenever light was cast he was sure to show it in a creative way such as a water puddle’s reflection on the ground, or the colorful streamers blowing in the wind.

All of the music in the documentary comes from the villagers of Viganella.  By using the sounds of the deep bass guitar, light acoustics, extravagant accordion and distinct drums, Christensen shows how artistically talented and devoted to self-expression the town is.

Both the documentary and the town of Viganella, has this naturalness to it that you can’t help but enjoy.  At the end of the movie the villagers are found basking in the sunshine.  Some are wearing shorts and hiking up the mountainside, while others are plopping big juicy grapes directly into their mouths from grapevines. We are left with a feeling of love for this town and its inhabitants.  Indeed, it truly is a fairy tale, what was once dark is now light.  As Mayor Midali’s quest for light proves successful, Viganella soaks up the sunlight and smiles back at him.



  1. […] Christensen’s The Mirror has a quiet charm, offering what The Columbia Missourian describes as a “modern fairy tale” about a small Italian village, Viganella, nestled […]

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