I wrote about MirrorMask in August since it was an entry in the main competition at the Locarno Insternational Film Festival. This a re-post with some added commentary:
MirrorMask, directed by Dave McKean, UK and USA, 2004(produced with Jim Henson Studios)
In Brighton, England, the daughter of parents who own a traveling circus, rebels about being part of it. When her mother gets sick and is hospitalized, her father must confront his growing financial difficulties that means the circus crew is about to leave him. The girl, about 16 years old, has a long dream initiated by guilt for not apologizing to her mother for her rudeness and rebellion.
The film seems to be a dream about growing up and how to sort out sorrow.
This is a surreal, creative, artsy film mixing reality and high concept animation. It is possible to follow the story although the mix of Lewis Carroll and Georges Melies motifs (mirrors and the sun) other dark fantasy elements. But trying to figure out what one-eyed spiders mean rendered it rather boring for me. Also, the girl's personality or response to her situation is inconsistent - whether due to the script, acting or direction, I couldn't tell. This impressionist film looks like it must have cost a fortune to produce, but in reality it was made for about four million dollars. I think this would only have a select audience, but it is being released nation-wide this weekend with write-ups even in Wired magazine. MirrorMask reminded me of low budget fantasy The Dust Factory, which did not do well in general release in the U.S, but you just can never tell.
Family, coming-of-age, guilt, fear, and reconciliation are some of the themes of this dark fantasy.