Mirror Soul asks: ‘Are you spending your days surrounded by others but still feeling lonely?’
“What if all the people in your life are emotional reflections of yourself?” “Are you spending your days surrounded by others but still feeling lonely?” These are just a few of the questions posed by Mirror Soul, the new short film by visual artist and director Mila van der Linden and premiering on Dazed.
Mirror Soul, which also stars van der Linden, was made in collaboration with designer Mulas Hybrid Haus and explores the spaces of deep dettachment that exists between us as individuals, as well as the disconnect we grapple with within ourselves. “Mirror Soul probes the feelings of lingering solitude after one is confronted with one’s true self and illuminates society’s chosen band-aids: fooling us into embracing alternative and fruitless solutions that distract from facing your true emotions,” the press release explains.
Van der Linden, a Dazed 100 alumni, considers the condition of solitude in her distinctive style. Mirror Soul is a gorgeous high-key colour fashion story mixed with the appealing kitsch of vintage Shopping Channel ads, and soundtracked by a dreamy and, at times, disturbing soundscape created by van der Linden for the film (featured below). We talk with Mila van der Linden about isolation, modern life, and whether it’s possible to really feel genuinely connected to other people.
Can you tell us a bit more about Mirror Soul and the kind of conversations or concerns from which the idea was born?
Mila van der Linden: Mirror Soul is a collaboration between me and fashion label Mulas Hybrid Haus. The idea started in the beginning of the first lockdown. Jessica (founder Mulas Hybrid Haus) and I had already decided earlier that we were making a short film together for a collection she was creating from revived bridal wear juxtaposed with up-cycled suits. But suddenly all the ideas we had, working with a lot of different people, were impossible. Later on, rules shifted and so we were able to incorporate my amazing friends Farhia, Merle, Lucy, and Ella into the film.
In my work, I have never really restricted myself to only fulfilling a certain role in a project, so we decided that besides being the director and music composer, I would also be the protagonist. This also made sense as the conversations the idea was born from were very personal. It wasn’t a standard collaboration, as Jessica was influencing the narrative of the film and I started influencing the narrative of the clothes. We were discussing what this isolation and social distancing would do to us as humans, while also being confronted with feelings that were normally diffused with endless distraction. This thing of ‘feeling alone in a crowd’ is something that I have always felt so, in a way, at this particular moment in time of a lockdown there was no getting around this conflict.
What does the title “Mirror Soul” mean?
Mila van der Linden: As we were researching the topics mentioned above, we came across this theory which basically suggests that a “mirror soul” is the other half of your soul. It explains that a soul can split into two after ascending to a high frequency, thereafter the soul lands in two different bodies. It is also described as a “twin flame” which leads us to the idea of the ultimate confrontation with one’s self – being literally duplicated and having to deal with an exact copy of yourself.
“I think it is important that we remember to take the time to check in with each other and listen to each other, and realise the possibility we have to uplift someone else who is feeling isolated” – Mila van der Linden
Who (or what) is the film satirising?
Mila van der Linden: I don’t think it is satirising a person. If anything I'm satirising myself. I often use my work as a way of channelling my own mental dispersion into something visual. It is, however, satirising money-making band-aids that fool you into embracing alternative and fruitless solutions that distract you.
I love your aesthetic! Can you share a bit more about your influences?
Mila van der Linden: My mum, who also makes a short cameo in the film as the bar’s bouncer, never fails to influence me. She effortlessly weaves an animal print and gold jewellery overdose into a nothing-to-mess-with aesthetic. And the bar we shot at, Cafe Nol, is a typical Amsterdam scenery. I remember coming there for the first time as a child and thinking, “Oh my god, this is what my room should look like.” Furthermore, in my visuals and the music I make, I'm heavily influenced by Dutch rave culture and Gregg Araki movies. Also, shout out to our cinematographer Sam Vis for bringing this vision to life and graphic designer Jelle Aukes for reading our mind when it comes to graphics.
Did you have a specific audience/viewer in mind when you made this film? Or is the message more universal?
Mila van der Linden: I don’t think me and Jessica had a specific audience in mind when making the film, I think the topic of the film is something that affects any human being though.
What does nature represent in “Mirror Soul”? There are some beautiful scenes of you shot outdoors in fields, tall grass, and the landscape seems significant.
Mila van der Linden: One of my favourite videos I would see on the telly growing up was Dune’s ‘Hardcore Vibes’, where you see an ethereal lady roaming through fields on a happy hardcore track. This image has really stuck to me as I liked the duality of the dream-like, tranquillising effect nature has and how sound can change that into something ominous. When I was producing the track ’Ronnie’, Jessica and I instantly got the idea for this sound to be contrasted with me walking through an idyllic field towards my first confrontation: myself on the TV, in the airy white dress she designed. It made sense to us that the end scene where I am ‘one’ again would also be in nature, but this time a forest, and the track goes, ‘I’m an isolated hero, in an isolated house.‘ I think nature can also feel like home when your actual home doesn’t.
Did you come to any conclusions or have any revelations about “true connections” while making this film? Do you have any advice for people struggling with feelings of isolation?
Mila van der Linden: I think during the process we spoke a lot about our current society’s duality of being constantly ‘connected’ but then also losing touch with real life, especially in these times. We think this is something a lot of the people around us struggle with: trying to maintain that balance for it to not become destructive. I think it is important that we remember to take the time to check in with each other and listen to each other, and realise the possibility we have to uplift someone else who is feeling isolated.
Is it possible to find this state of ”true connection”?
Mila van der Linden: When I think of this state of ‘true connection’, I see a mixture of being truly connected with yourself and those sacred times in your life you come across someone, you feel you have met before in a past life.
What do you hope viewers will take away from “Mirror Soul”?
Mila van der Linden: We think that what the viewer takes away from ‘Mirror Soul’ is really up to themselves, other than that we hope it provokes a reaction.
Directed: Mila van der Linden, Fashion: Mulas Hybrid Haus, Cinematography: Sam Vis, Edit: Ruben Wiegerinck, Music composition: Mila van der Linden, Set design: Sjors Kroes, Production: Hilde van Halteren, Graphic design: Jelle Aukes, Grading: Roman Strijbos, Het Kleurlokaal, Sound design: Camiel Muiser, Light design: Michiel Kingma Aron Hoebink, Animation: Vladimir Vidanovski, Make-up: Isabel Montoya, Hair: Lea Muses, Ella, Styling: Vicenta Ferreira Pinheiro, Tirino Yspol