Friday, September 15, 2006

The Pervert's Guide to Cinema

Slovenian Philosopher and psychoanalyst Slavoj Zizek, who was the subject of a biographical documentary at last year's festival, brings this interpretation of the underlying themes and meanings of contemporary film and our relationship to cinema. He encompasses everything from Charlie Chaplin to the Marx Brothers, to Alfred Hitchcock, to David Lynch, and even movies like Alien, Star Wars, and the Matrix.

Zizek subscribes to the Freudian school of psychoanalysis as he puts a distinct spin on the films. For example, he views the three floors of Norman Bates' house in Psycho as representations of the super ego (the top floor), the ego (the ground floor), and the fruit cellar (the id). He talks of the cinema screen as a canvas on which we project our own fantasies, those things we use to escape from the real world, and that if they ever truly manifested themselves in real life would shatter us.

It helps to have watched the films in question to know if Zizek's interpretations are on the mark or if the film clips have been taken wildly out of context. There were a number of walkouts during the screening, possibly because of disagreements with his theories and Freudian interpretations, possibly because of expectations going in, or possibly because of the length. Broken into three parts, the film spans 2-1/2 hours; it probably would sit better on TV. I personally found his observations interesting and thought-provoking, even if I thought some points seemed to stretch quite a bit.

Because of the amount of academic discussion, this film would probably appeal more to film students (or psychology students) and the like, rather than a more populist audience that might be drawn in by references to the Matrix or Star Wars.


If you want to know more about the Zizek film, 'The Pervert's Guide to Cinema' please visit the official website

My experiences at the Toronto International Film Festival. Note this blog is not affiliated with the Toronto International Film Festival Group or the festival itself.
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