Down with that sort of thing

‘The sickest and filthiest film I remember seeing.’

‘Perverse filth!’

Film Critics on Peeping Tom

This Saturday, while Irish votes are being counted, we will have a screening of Michael Powell’s film Peeping Tom followed by a public discussion. This digitally-remastered, lost masterpiece is a startling and highly entertaining visual feast. Previous screenings abroad have brought opposition (if not downright banning) due to the scandalous nature of the film’s content, so it might be advised to arrive early. Regardless, this film is an important contribution to the world of cinema.

Although it’s material is disturbing, the film itself enters into aesthetic territory about the nature of cinema, the nature of perception, and the “male gaze” constructed by cinema and photography. The film is also rife with Freudian scenarios, and is altogether rich in content as well as being visually beautiful. The deep, saturated colours on screen are as equally fascinating as the strange, lustful narrative that somehow appears redemptive towards a perverted, serial killer. But mostly, Peeping Tom is a landmark achievement, banned and blacklisted because being well ahead of its time, and instructive in its careful construction.

To quote film theorist, Laura Mulvey: “Peeping Tom, as its title implies, is overtly about voyeuristic sadism. Its central character is a young cameraman and thus the story of voyeuristic perversion is, equally overtly, set within the film industry and the cinema itself, foregrounding its mechanisms of looking, and the gender divide that separates the secret observer (male) from the object of his gaze (female). The cinema spectator’s own voyeurism is made shockingly obvious and even more shockingly, the spectator identifies with the perverted protagonist. It is this relentless exposure of cinematic conventions and assumptions that has attracted the interest of feminist film critics, and the recent application of psychoanalytic theory to film theory clearly reveals the film’s psychoanalytic frame of reference.”

Myself, Danijela Kulezic-Wilson and Tony Patridge will lead a public discussion on the film after its screening. Everyone (of age) is welcome to attend.


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