This is so obvious, it barely needs stating. So it's always a shock when critics complain that a particular film is voyeuristic. Well, all films are, though, admittedly, few go quite as far as Michael Powell's 1960 classic, Peeping Tom, which has films within films within films - including a snuff movie - and makes you see life through the eyes of a serial killer (Carl Bohm). That's what the critics who originally called the picture 'disgusting' and 'revolting' were truly objecting to: not the subject matter, but Powell pointing out that audiences ritually - indeed, routinely - participated in everything from joy to love to rape to sex killings.
Powell rubbed everyone's genteel noses in the dirt - implicated them, so to speak - and saw his career crumble. Yet the very same year Hitchcock produced Psycho, which not only had Anthony Perkins spying on Janet Leigh as she undressed (remember that huge close-up of his eye?) but actually put us in the position of stabbing a naked woman to death in a shower. Psycho was the biggest hit of a distinguished career, perhaps because Hitchcock, unlike Powell, used 'entertainment' to cloak his dark intentions. Psycho, he said, was 'just my little joke' - Hitchcock was the naughty fat boy who literally got away with the dirty look. Powell, on the other hand, discovered the cost of being caught peeking . . .
'Peeping Tom' is at the Camden Plaza (071-485 2443)Reuse content