Peeping Tom (1960)
Starring: Carl Boehm, Moira Shearer, Anna Massey, Maxine Audley, Pamela Green
Plot: A young man murders women, using a movie camera to film their dying expressions of terror.
My Review and Thoughts:
If Jack the Ripper had a movie camera.
This is considered by many one of the greatest films of all time. It's considered legendary. It’s considered a classic and was massively controversial when it came out. Sadly it ruined the career of one of the greatest directors of all time Michael Powell after it came out his career pretty much stopped because of the uproar of the film at the time. He had directed some of the great films of all time and now after fan base and cult status many believe that Peeping Tom is one of those greatest achievements. Critics today praise it and bring it up. Those critics that destroyed it clearly had no idea what they where talking about during the time period because it was so different and so true for time that it should have been praised. This day and age it is respected and admired and discussed in vivid detail throughout people's love of cinematic movie making. For its time it was brilliantly filmed, created and masterfully achieved through cinema perfection. It was one of those films that left a lasting impression through its stark reality and its brilliant concept for it's time. So many films have copied from it since it's creation, but it is the one and only that created so much in the Cinema world. It brought to life so much darkness, so much horror induced reality, and so much twisted disturbing content for its time. For its time this was a true psychological orgy of depravity, fear and murder. These type of films did not grace mainstream cinema and so when this came out it shocked the masses and the masses could not grasp the beauty and deep dark reality that it created.
Your main character is named Mark, a photographer and an aspiring filmmaker. Mark is a character built on insanity created by man. He is on the brink of a schizoid personality and a murderous intent that drives his sexuality.
A murderous serial killer who films the last moments of his dying prey. For it's time, this is masterpiece of cinematic clarity in what true perfection of film is. It was the landmark and achievement if you will of the hand held camera horror which has been beaten to death this day and age of film making. Powell crafted a film that leaves a lasting mark. For when it came out it destroyed and created such a controversy that sadly it stained the brilliant understanding of creating a darker purpose filled movie. Thankfully through a cult following and through time, it has become one of the films that everyone speaks about, brings up and discusses the brilliance of its old-school terror. Discussion on its film making, on its horror and its ultimate old-school perfection in the art of darkness and the mind is a basic teaching tool for film class. Now it has its melodramatic acting flaws and silly moments that in today's culture would seem ridiculous, but you have to look at it from the point of view and time period that it came out. Most people won't speak negative of it but I am an honest reviewer and I have to say it has not aged well and does not transcend to the public reality of filming today but that does not mean it's a bad movie. This is a brilliant film for its time and its underlining psychological darkness still plays well. It's one of those old day masterpieces that you watch and place yourself during that time period to fully understand and enjoy the film. It has the classic style of murder mystery yet from the killer's point of view and so that makes it so much darker and deeper and very different for it's time period.
I think the film does something extraordinarily brilliant. Most films avoid or do not showcase this brilliance itself, which is what we all suffer from, voyeuristic pleasure. For when we the audience watch film we enter different worlds, we become part of different worlds, we become a part of other people's fear, of other peoples desires, of other people’s emotions. What Peeping Tom does, is, it does not hide our voyeuristic pleasures, and it rubs it in our face. For you see we as a society, have a problem. 'We love to watch other people. 'We love to watch other people's problems. We love to watch other things happen to people as long as it's not happening to us. We are a society built on reality TV, reality actions, and documentaries. We focus on the news. We read the tabloid gossip. We want everything and more about others. Peeping Tom was a smack in the face. It was kind of a wakeup call that rings even more today, then when it came out. I think the character of Mark is in us all, yet instead of us acting on the actual murders. 'We become a part of the murders through Marks doing. We are so obsessed with mayhem and death, whole TV channels are focused on it now days.
Mark's character and the idea of Peeping Tom plays on the reality of the concept of nature versus nurture. Mark is the darkness of society and we watch the darkness unfold and we get to become that darkness by the lens of the camera, which is our eyes and our hands and most of all our minds. We become the killer. Mark takes us along his journey of the fear and dread of others.
Carl Boehm plays the role of Mark, the psychopathic killer and the inner fear that we all have that he brings forth. Carl owned this part and created this part through an extraordinary means of art-house acting perfection. He in this role, is one of the greatest characters come to life in all of cinema history. Carl crafted the darkness of the character of Mark. Gave the character a believable reality. He gave the character a persona of emotions and also the concept of victim and the one creating the victims.
Sadly Carl, like the director Powell suffered from the controversy of this film. His career and his emotional reality became dramatic and also halted and changed because of the reaction when the film first came out.
Besides Peeping Tom, he has acted in some brilliant films and was always an extraordinary performer in just about everything he did. I will always remember him most in the films that he starred in by director Rainer Werner Fassbinder. He aced many wonderful characters in films such as Martha, Effi Briest, Fox and His Friends and Mother Küsters' Trip to Heaven.
Sadly we lost this pioneering acting performer on May 29th 2014. He was a legend of acting and created perfection on camera. He gave Mark life and sealed his ultimate perfection of twisted psychological darkness in Peeping Tom. He will always be remembered.
I find what so utterly amazing is how the movie did a 360 in the idea of people hating it and then it becoming that film that everyone or the majority hold on a pedestal. When it came out it was loathed and stated that it belonged to the heaps of garbage and deserved to be destroyed, but now it's considered one of the great masterpieces of British cinema. It's highly talked about throughout the movie making world. It's actually one of those films that if you're a director, you can learn from it because it has everything in it that making a movie should have. It showcases the perfection of filming and the art of directing.
It's basically a textbook on crafting a film. Besides the filming, the direction, the acting and story. What truly needs to be spoken is the soundtrack. The music score is stunning. It is one of the greatest music scores of any film. It is a story in itself and the true perfection of listening to what, fear, dread, murder, would sound like, if it was music. Brian Easdale created a flawless soundtrack of music bliss.
This is a film that is different and yet something stunning for its time. I feel the film still holds that basic concept yet has not aged well.That age still does not take away anything from it because it, is one of the great pieces of movie making history. I feel this is a pioneering film that many upcoming film makers can take a hold of and learn from. They can use that same dynamic of mastery that was used to create this old school psychological, emotional, complex narrative of a sick suffering and confused persona that was created through man's action. The persona of the character started to display that corruption of his tainted innocence which was locked away by his ultimate fear. To seek out that understanding of fear was to relive it, in all its tainted understanding.