Running at just over two hours long, I expected The Perverts Guide To Cinema to be as dry, and exciting, as a 1970’s Open University lecture, but it’s actually really interesting and very well done.
Presenter, Slavoj Zizek, is at times quite hard to understand. His English is heavily accented, and with a slight lissssp, but his theories are interesting enough to make you see the various scenes in a new light.
Starting off with the 1931 movie, Possessed, Zizek takes a scene which the average person (ie: me) would find uneventful (a woman watching a train go by) and shows how the Director has used the train as a way of showing how the woman is watching another life fly by. Nifty.
Hitchcocks ‘The Birds‘ is next to be put through the psychoanalytic wringer. Zizek’s theory is that the birds themselves are (and I quote:) ‘outbursts of the maternal super-ego‘. I’m not quite sure how he works that one out…
Next is the turn of the legendary ‘Psycho‘. I liked Zizek’s idea/theory that the three level house is Psycho actually represents the three degrees within psychoanalytic theory (super-ego, ego, and id). Either Hitchcock did the three level house on purpose, or it’s an amazing coincidence. For example, the mother is living on the top floor of the house, and at this time she is effectively in charge of Norman. Only when he moves her to the basement does he take control and the killing begin.
Each scene, with Zizek, is filmed against the actual background of, or replica of, the scene being discussed, so his explanations fit in quite well with the film under analysis. Next he discusses the human voice, using The Exorcist as an example then moving on to Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.
Since the subject is perversity, Zizek uses several of David Lynch’s films as examples of how something so absurd and funny (angry characters saying random things), can still hit home and make us feel sorry for a character. He also discusses actual sex, and ponders on the true scenario where, at some point in everyones sexual life, they – during sex – suddenly become detached from the scene and begin to feel awkward, even silly, as the fantasy element that’s required for sex has been broken.
Then comes my favourite part of the entire two hours, a scene where Zizek is in a garden, watering some flowers, and begins to theorise about the tulips saying they are almost like ‘vagina dentata’, it’s open petals are in invitation for all the insects to ‘come and screw it‘, and that ‘flowers should be forbidden to children‘. I have no idea if he is being serious or not. Either way, it made me wonder about the guys sanity, and since it has nothing to do with any of the movies it caught me off guard and make it even more of a ‘what the fuck?!’ moment.
The program certainly made me realise that a scene that may seem pointless/irrelevant can actually have a much deeper meaning to the movie or life itself. His explaination of someone boring and choosing to play a violent character in a video game to make up for their boring life, this can be turned on its head, and maybe that boring person is actually a violent person who knows they can’t act violent in society so acts it out in the video game to get satisfaction, and the boring life is a facade for use in society. Something I hadn’t thought of before.
Either way, it is quite a heavy, thoughtful, programme, but certainly very enjoyable and will make you think more about what a scene in a movie may really mean.