The Friday Film: Peeping Tom

This week’s Friday film is Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom. Protagonist Mark is subjected to constant surveillance by his father as a child under the guise of scientific research. This unusual upbringing results in Mark becoming the ultimate voyeur in adulthood. Working in a film studio by day, he captures scenes which are far more sinister in his free time. Mark films the murders of young women.

All this filming isn’t healthy. – Mrs Stephens, Peeping Tom

Causing anger on its release in 1960, this film is now a much loved classic. Film buffs will notice that this was also the year that Psycho was released and indeed, the two films have been compared many times. Personally, I think that Peeping Tom is a far superior film. It manages to get under your skin and is truly disturbing whilst remaining entertaining throughout.

It’s a long time since a film disgusted me as much as Peeping Tom. – C.A. Lejeune for The Observer

HOLLYWOOD—I recently revisited a classic in the cinematic universe that not many people are aware of. It’s a film that was quite controversial when it was released in 1960, and it preceded what many consider to be the movie that ignited the horror genre, “Psycho.”… The one thing I can say about “Peeping Tom” and many horror flicks before the 1970s is that blood was very tame to say the least. – Canyon News

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Mark Lewis is a focus puller in a film studio. Severely disturbed as a result of his abusive and manipulative psychologist father, he is gripped by an obsessive voyeurism that leads him to murder. – BFI Screenonline

Director Michael Powell
Production Company Michael Powell (Theatre)
Screenplay and original story Leo Marks
Cinematography Otto Heller
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A Poem From Ghérasim Luca

at the edge of a forest

whose trees are slender ideas

and each leaf a thought at bay

the vegetal reveals to us

the damned depths of an animal sect

or more precisely

an old insect anguish

waking up as man

the only way

the only basic weapon

to animate a mental state

that I hurry to write mantil

like a mantis

if only to mark

with a dry warning laugh

the devouring word

Entity and antithesis of the bush

a sort of wild and organic brush

grows in the head of that man

ravaged

by the heresy of parks and greenhouses

like the orgasm of a key

a lovely door

So the legendary passivity

the famous and ample passivity of plants

changes here to idle hate

to mad rage

to sex brawl and dare

luring by sap blood lava . . .

as rapid as the passage of woman

to beast

she empties us of a foul ancestral

wound

which in a spurt relieves us

of these fixed plaints

and these false death rattles plumbing us

our calm gestures of the interred

Now only terror

is still able to insert

in the tropism of body and of guilty

spirit

this prism as doubled echo

where brains and senses capture

the violent innocence

of a flora and a fauna

whose marriage is a long seizure

and a rape as slow as gold

in the implacable lead

And it’s around the mental equator

in the space delimited by the tropics

of a head

at the angle of the eye and what surrounds it

that the myth of a kind of utopian

jungle surges into the world

As virgin as the unknowable

or the other “face” of the moon

and never in the reach of a gun

or an axe

its prey is the snow

sand ball hip if not the trap

that the diffuse breath of a dream

lights up

For tangled

soldered to massive corkscrew keys

the vines

the branches stoves and rituals

fuse

around the forms placed

as if by miracle

at the crossroads of dryads

of druids and of man

So many points to aim at

all these yes and nos that

outside outside of time

of space and weight

select a sort of coupled oasis

and hamlet

to descend in these gods

from before the ages

the gods-place-beast-island-ash-fire

come forth as from the coupling of bird

and branch

and those exiled from the center

and from the shade of a golden foliage

will adore one day

between the walls of their somber cities


Poetry Matters

Found here.