This film was thought to be lost entirely until the first reel was discovered in the holdings of the New Zealand Film Archive. This is still only a small portion of the film. The rest is still believed to be lost. See more »
It looks like the last two reels of this Lois Weber feature from 1916 are missing. At least, they aren't available on the National Film Preservation Website where they have posted several of the films they recovered from New Zealand a couple of years ago. A pity, because this looks to be a study in social discontent offered in formalist terms.
We see people from various walks of life -- accompanied by titles that announce that the character represents a type -- heading to a movie theater in which they see a Lois Weber film entitled "Life's Mirror". Indeed it is, with all the types repeated, only this time their environment is changed. In the "real world" the photography is very strong,with sharply defined naturalistic compositions. People are framed by doors, windows, archways and all the unadorned devices that can be used to produce sharp images. Their world is simple, clear, easily understood. The world of the movie they go to, in contrast, is cluttered with objects lying about, coats hanging on doors, complicating the image and making the subject murky.
So is this a commentary on formalism itself? Did Weber feel that the audience was up to appreciating this satirical jab at her own art? Frankly, I doubt it. I think the message of the movie can be summed up in one title, in which one of the children suggests that they go out to the movies and have a good time instead of staying at home and having a bad one.
I am almost certainly overthinking this movie. The modern film-goer, even one who enjoys the occasional silent film, will not notice the occasional nice panning shot or fade cut -- both had to be done with a bulky heavy camera when this piece was shot. The modern viewer will find this slow and preachy. These are issues I cannot dispute. Still, for 1916, it's a very good piece of film making.
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