Halloween Spooktacular: Day Twelve

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Peeping Tom, 1960
dir. Michael Powell

Yet another classic I hadn’t seen before. Which I think is a good thing, because it feels like one has to be in the right frame of mind or the right intellectual capability to appreciate this film fully (by which I mean, had I watched this last year or before that, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much, or deemed it boring.)

This is an amazing film, it truly is. It’s so beautiful, every frame is gorgeous. The lighting of it is like nothing I’ve seen before, you can definitely see that Nicolas Winding Refn was heavily inspired by this film just from the colour palette. The reds, yellows, purples — visually stunning, but also cover the film with an atmosphere of fantasy.

In the copy I have (the 50th anniversary re-release on bluray) there’s an introduction by Martin Scorcese before the film, and he comments on Powell’s genius and on the uncanny and terrifying way the film portrays obsession and what eventually becomes madness. I think it’s interesting because the figure of the “peeping tom” is seen as this creepy man but in the case of Mark Lewis there’s an element of self-hatred that adds another layer to this character. (Tinto Brass has a film about a peeping tom as well that is much less nuanced — it’s not supposed to have nuance though, so we’ll give it a pass.) The self-hatred he demonstrates and the self-flagellation at the end really cement his arc as someone who has been haunted by this unwanted obsession, and the fact he had his demise planned all along illustrates this further.

Great, great film.


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