There have been many books written about the “Italian Hitchcock” Dario Argento but none as in depth and interesting as Maitland McDonagh’s Broken Mirrors/Broken Minds: The Dark Dreams of Dario Argento which has resurfaced in a new Expanded Edition. Most “normal” film goers know of Argento mostly as the so-called “Italian Hitchcock” by way of his giallo thrillers Deep Red (1976), The Bird With the Crystal Plumage (1970), and Tenebrae (1982) but horror fans know him best for his Susperia (1977), Inferno (1980), and Opera (1987). His style is unlike any other director (in fact, his style is nothing like Alfred Hitchcock) and he rarely ever repeats himself instead seeking out new ways to terrorize his audiences which is probably why his more contemporary films have not been well received, such as The Phantom of the Opera (1998), The Card Player (), Do You Like Hitchcock? (2005) or Giallo (2009).
McDonagh’s book delves deep into each of Argento’s film in an academic way breaking down each film and analyzing them not just in terms of their individual merits but as part of Argento’s overall filmography. McDonagh has a writing style that masks what could have easily been another academic study into a book that even the most casual reader will be able to understand and enjoy which is probably why it has been such a popular book since its original publication. Despite all the other books out there about Argento this is the one that is chiefly concerned with his films and therefore is a great doorway into understanding not only the films but the film maker himself in terms of his films.
For film enthusiasts this is a book that needs to be added to your library and book shelf. Despite the fact that the book ends at covering Argento’s Trauma (1992) McDonagh’s new Introduction for the Expanded Edition allows for a unique look at all Argento’s films current. Also contained within the book is an interview with Argento himself (from 1985) as well as a plethora of photos, posters, and other media to fill out the massive book. If you want to know anything about Argento’s films you can’t do any better than this book.