“Jazz pianist/singer Ana is profoundly affected by her father’s suicide shortly after her engagement. After calling off the wedding, Ana leaves her homeland on Madeira Island only to undergo several failed relations when she intermittently becomes hypnotically driven to kill any man that becomes close to her.
It isn’t just enough to say that Ana is haunted by images of her dead father in the mirror. She doesn’t just see him, but she finds herself at times in the mirror, in Franco’s looking glass world. It can also be viewed as Ana’s mental reflection on her emotional trauma. The memory of her father’s suicide driven by his stubborn disapproval of her marrying and leaving him is intertwined with Ana’s psyche, manifesting itself when she murders any man that shows any sexual interest in her. Ana’s traumatization, spurned the moment of her outcry into the mirror, yields a malediction that could either be viewed as some sort of curse or spell from her father’s ghost or played off as the result of a kind of posttraumatic stress disorder. If taken at face value, the goose bumps inducing ending, made more dramatic with church bells signifying the wedding that never was, reveals which one happens to be the case.
I’ve seen all three versions of this film, and I think the Spanish version (the one being reviewed) should be considered the definitive version, as it is the director’s cut. The alternate French, Le miroir obscéne, and Italian, Lo specchio del piacere, versions of this film seem to be the most viewed on account of usually being the easiest to come across. They differ significantly from the Spanish version, with the biggest difference being that they do away with Ana’s father committing suicide, replacing that aspect with Ana’s sister, played by Lina Romay, killing herself. Ana is instead haunted by images of her dead sister, who doesn’t exist in the Spanish version, in the mirror, committing obscene, explicit acts of sexual intercourse. As much as I don’t disagree with seeing Lina Romay, I don’t think this works as well and seems more like an excuse to insert hardcore porn shots into the film, cheapening it and being a possible reason for why this film hasn’t been more widely discovered and praised until more recently. I would recommend seeing the Spanish version, more than once, and only watch the other two out of curiosity.”