The Pervert's Guide To Cinema

The Pervert's Guide To Cinema


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

If you're considering watching The Pervert's Guide To Cinema you should be aware that its title is misleading - though entirely accurate at the same time. This isn't an exploitation piece - in fact, it's largely free of overtly sexual images - and its aim is not to titillate but to educate.

The Pervert's Guide To Cinema is a psychoanalytical study of some of the most acclaimed films of the last 60 years. Though aimed at film theory students and psychologists rather than at the general viewer, it is remarkably accessible, and anyone comfortable with an academic approach to cinema will find something worth watching in it. That said, it's very long, broken into three segments each of which is probably quite enough to digest at a single setting. It packs a furious pace, full of information and ideas, so you'd better be alert to keep up.

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The Pervert's Guide to Cinema is presented by psychoanalyst Slavoj Žižek, who previously brought us The Reality of the Virtual. An energetic and engaging man, he is clearly enjoying himself as he expounds on his notions about the importance of perspective, the development of themes and the underlying sexual conflicts inherent in films like Lost Highway, Solaris and The Birds. Whether or not you agree with his ideas (some viewers may feel angry; others will find themselves laughing out loud), it cannot be denied that he has a thorough knowledge of his subject matter and makes some very good points. In the process, he also shows clips from some very good films - if you haven't seen them all already, this will provide a good introduction.

Žižek's analysis of Charlie Chaplin's City Lights is particularly poignant. Unfortunately, no subtitles are provided for those in foreign languages, which will leave some viewers completely lost. Have patience with this, becuse they make up only a small part of the overall presentation. Žižek also makes reference, rather oddly, to popular films such as The Matrix and Star Wars: Episode 3 - Revenge Of The Sith, though it seems unlikely that anyone who finds these movies deep and meaningful will have made it that far through this one.

Often these days one comes across television documentaries which seem to have been made largely so that the presenter and camera crew can enjoy going on holiday without having to do or say very much. The Pervert's Guide To Cinema is certainly picaresque, but its tour of film locations is thoroughly justified by what Žižek has to tell us about them, as well as the quite intentional humour to be found there. They certainly increase the general interest value of a production which might otherwise have taken place entirely within a lecture room. Overall, this intense and ambitious film is surprisingly enjoyable whatever one's motives for watching it.

For details of screenings visit the official site.

Reviewed on: 12 Oct 2006
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A psychoanalytical look at film.
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Director: Sophie Fiennes

Writer: Sophie Fiennes, Slavoj Zizek

Starring: Slavoj Žižek

Year: 2006

Runtime: 150 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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