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Matinee: 'Love Mom' Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

12 May 2018

Saturday matinees long ago let us escape from the ordinary world to the island of the Swiss Family Robinson or the mutinous decks of the Bounty. Why not, we thought, escape the usual fare here with Saturday matinees of our favorite photography films?

So we're pleased to present the 149th in our series of Saturday matinees today: Love Mom by Andrew Wonder.

"I always dreamed of being a cultural anthropologist," Wonder says, "but when I was 17, MTV gave me a camera and put me on the road to produce an episode of their series Made."

It changed his life. "Getting that camera was like finding my paint brush and I learned no matter your resources, all you need is a strong story and an emotional way of telling it.?

This is a strong story. Mothers talking about their children. And their children talking about their mothers. But there's a catch.

The mothers don't realize their children can hear them talking about them.

The candor this evokes surprises the children. And they, in turn, reveal their own feelings directly to their mothers.

That's Wonder's emotional way of telling this story.

Wonder used an interrotron to conduct the interviews. Errol Morris invented the interrotron, which he used in his Oscar-winning The Fog of War, to capture his subjects talking directly to the camera.

Morris knew his subjects would not open up to a disembodied voice asking them questions they were to answer while looking directly into a polished lens. So he set up a pair of cameras, each looking through two-way glass with a monitor reflecting the other camera's image into the glass.

That provides both direct eye contact between the interviewer and the subject plus video capture of the subject talking directly to the camera. Eye contact with both the interviewer and the audience, in short.

Here's a short video by the Russell Brothers showing how it all works:

And Wonder uses the technique quite effectively to paint a very effective portrait of one of the most important relationships a person will ever have.

Describing his nearly seven-minute clip, Wonder writes:

There is a point in your life when you realize that each moment with your mother is more precious than the last. It's usually right around the point you realize they are human and they did their best with you. As you head into the weekend I hope you'll take a moment to send some love to your mother (or be celebrated yourself). Happy Mothers Day to you all and your families. Love 'em while you got 'em.

Human beings being human, mothers are both venerated and scape-goated and everything in between, from being doted on to ignored. But this short piece shows mothers talking candidly about their children -- and children responding by talking just as candidly about their mothers.

Mirrors, yes. But no smoke.

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