Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Peeping Tom (1960)

Anyone looking for a weird movie about a psychopath? Well, look no further than Michael Powell's Peeping Tom. It is about a lonely, socially awkward, sexually repressed man, Mark Lewis, who works as a focus puller in a British film studio. He earns extra cash by taking pictures for a local porno shop. When he isn't working, he enjoys filmmaking and compulsively murdering women. He films his murders because he has an obsession with true fear and how its emotional effect registers on a frightened face. What happened in his life that has caused him to become a killer? Why is he so obsessed with fear? What can be done to make him stop murdering innocent people?

The filming style of this movie is very interesting. At some points, it reminded me of Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) and, at other times, it reminded me of Bergman's Persona (1966). It was a very strange combination. I found myself torn between feeling extremely creeped out by Mark and feeling sorry for him. I think that's what caused me to like the film so much.

Back when Peeping Tom was first released, it received devastating reviews by the critics. I think the problem was that they were not used to looking at a serial killer as anything but a monster that is entirely evil. Mark isn't entirely evil, he suffered from a great deal of psychological damage when he was a child, which made him turn to killing. However, he's still a monster because he murders innocent people, he just isn't the monster that the critics in the '60s were accustomed to seeing.


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