The many meanings of seeing yourself.
We don’t often use this particular word to describe them, but mirrors are intimate. Rather, the experience of looking into a mirror is intimate. We are never more honest with ourselves than when we are face-to-face with ourselves, even when we are lying to the entire world around us. Mirrors can warp, but they can’t lie, the you they reflect is always some version of you, but what you see and how you interpret it is on your end, not the mirror’s.
In film, mirrors are used for moments of reflection, obviously, both the physical and emotional kind, but they are also used for moments of deceit, deception, dejection, juxtaposition, contrast and comparison, distortion, delusion, breaking down and breaking through. A persona is never more vulnerable, nor stronger, than when it is staring at itself, and the visual power of these moments have been used in cinematic narratives beginning at the dawn of the medium and continuing to the present day.
As proof of this last statement, take the following supercut from The Auteur Journal that collects mirror scenes from 32 different films and uses them to illustrate the myriad meanings the can convey. What they demonstrate, above all else, is that whatever personas we adopt, faces we wear, or lies we tell, there’s no escaping the truth found in our refleciton.