LA GLACE A TROIS FACES (1927)
aka The Three-Sided Mirror
Article 4123 by Dave Sindelar
Directed by Jean Epstein
Featuring Jeanne Helbling, Suzy Pierson, Olga Day
What it is: Psychological avant-garde drama
The story of a man and his affairs with three women is told.
Let’s get the fantastic content out of the way first. This is one of those cases where it’s not embedded in the plot, but rather, in the distorted cinematic styles employed in the movie. The Walt Lee guide describes them as “dynamic distortions of reality”, and that’s about as good a way to describe it as any; we often see double and triple exposures that reflect the mental life of a particular character, and this at least nudges up against the genre of fantasy.
It does make for some fascinating viewing. Director Jean Epstein had a real talent for capturing telling facial expressions and expressive movements that can often tell volumes about a character while keeping the dialogue (or, in the case of this silent movie, title cards) to a minimum. It is sometimes elusive and difficult, but that’s not entirely unexpected. Still, one has to have a taste for this sort of thing, and I suspect fans of fantastic cinema will probably prefer to stick with his version of THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER.