Today: April 12, 2024

Peeping Tom DVD/ BR

Today, considered to be a misunderstood masterpiece, the
controversial film Peeping Tom (1960) effectively annihilated director
Michael Powell’s career over-night.

Upon its release, film critics slammed Peeping Tom, calling it
‘sick,’ ‘nasty,’ and – ‘beastly.’ Within a week, it was pulled from
movie theatres. It was not until twenty years later, when Martin Scorsese celebrated the film, that it began to become popular. The restored digital print brings it back to the big screen, released on 19 Nov, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the British classic, followed by a blu-ray release.

Somewhat mild, by modern standards, the 60s were not ready to embrace a sympathetic film about a murderous voyeur.
Further, Powell’s revolutionary use of filmmaking to explore the
voyeuristic nature of cinema, forces us, the audience, to feel complicit
in the crimes committed, witnessed through the perpetrator’s viewfinder
of a hand-held cine camera. Deriving erotic pleasure from the fear and
pain of his victims, the protagonist is potrayed as a tragic, rather
than a bad guy, upon whom Powell (A Matter of Life and Death, The Red Shoes) never lays judgement. The similarly-themed film Psycho,
released the same year, to which this movie’s often compared,
eventually reveals Norman Bates as a complete nut job. That does not
happen to the handsome Mark Lewis (Heinz Boehm).

By day, Mark is an ordinary, modest studio camera operator. By night,
he moonlights in soft porn photography in a seedy studio above a
newsagent where its owner (Bartlett Mullins) generously provides
‘views’ to dirty old men. Tellingly, Mark is more fascinated with a
‘model’s’ disfigured face, rather than the ample chest of another,
underlining the twisted soul of a man with a penchant for making snuff movies.

Generally casting prostitutes as his leading ladies, whom he stabs
with the sharpened leg of a tripod, innocent young lady Helen Stephens’ (Massey)
wanders into his path and in danger of the casting couch. However, she
may yet, unwittingly save him from his sickness. But not before he
‘offs’ her blind mother (Audley).

Perhaps Helen might have thought differently about giving Lewis a
piece of her birthday cake, that first day, if she’d known about the
plans he already had in mind for studio colleague Vivian (Shearer).
Why she doesn’t start running for the hills when he shows her a
disturbing film from his childhood, is anyone’s guess. But these were
the days before Oprah who would have predicted how the young ‘un would
turn out had she seen the film made by Lewis’ father, a psychologist,
who kept a video journal of the boy’s upbringing for research purposes.
Now, Mark himself, is secretly conducting his own experiment, watching
his films to study his victims in their final terrified moments. The film is dtill deeply disturbing and shocking, today.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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