The Mirror Man is an excellent documentary about Jorge Luis Borges. I recently learned (via flameape) that the documentary is available online at UBUWEB, a site that describes itself as the YouTube of the Avant-Garde.

Note that the documentary is 47 minutes but the video on UBUWEB seems to stop abruptly about 35 minutes into the film, sigh. So, if you want to see the whole thing you may need to find a copy via BitTorrent. Regardless, even if you see only the partial video on UBUWEB then you will come away with a rich experience.

Mirrors & themes

The script of the documentary was written by Alberto Manguel, a person who knows a lot about Borges. Manguel writes that the central theme of Borges works was the “curious paradox of being human in a mysterious and incomprehensible world.”

Even if you’re not so interested in Borges the documentary features archival video footage of Buenos Aires during the early 20th century. Also, there are interviews with Borges’ mother Leonor Acevedo, Maria Kodama, Adolfo Bioy Casares, Edgardo Cozarinski, as well as Borges himself.

The title The Mirror Man comes from Borges’ childhood fascination with mirrors and mirror-like surfaces. “More than anything the boy feared another self reflected in the polished furniture and dark mirrors of the house.”

The documentary gives a very good overview of the life of Borges and the influence of living in Europe during his youth. Living abroad enabled him to discover Argentina. Borges said, “Absence made it possible for me to see things i would not have seen if i had stayed at home.”

Upon the return of Borges in the 1920s Manguel writes that Borges “wandered through Buenos Aires with the passion of explorer.