Mirror is an animated short film visualizing depressive feelings resulted from extreme self-criticism.

Chenchen Zhou



Mirror is a digitally-drawn animated film depicting the inner struggle of a person who experiences extreme self-criticism. The initial idea comes from my personal experience of doing self-criticism in an extreme way and ending up with negative feelings. Self-criticism as an objective evaluation of oneself can lead to improvements. However, based on Sigmund Freud’s theory of personality structures, while experiencing extreme self-criticism, the unbalanced psychological parts of an individual can reduce mental well-being. The way I visualize the two conflicting minds of a character over self-criticism is based on how Freud divided one’s personality into psychological parts.

In my depiction, I let my character experience harsh criticism towards his/her self to show how extreme self-criticism can lead to strong depressed feelings. When I was struck by the anguish of criticism, the inner struggle was hard to convey verbally but I perceived it in a visual form. In this project, I turned my visions into a film to convey this chaotic inner state. The black and white visual style fits in the dark tone of the story. There are two conflicting parts inside the character: one part of the character does self-criticism, while the other tries to resist it. The conflict between the two parts is translated into the action of consuming and fighting between a figure outside the mirror and his/her reflection. The figures in my film don’t have distinguished characteristics as I intend to present the self-criticism concept in a universal way. The character can be understood as every person so that audiences can project their feelings onto the film character. The usage of a mirror in the film is inspired by Jacques Lacan’s concept of the mirror stage. As a mirror can reveal the psychological state, in the film, the mirror serves as a trigger for the process of self-criticism.

IMA/IMB Shanghai
Capstone Studio (Shanghai)