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Peeping Tom (Special Edition) DVD

Michael Powell, 1960

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Film Details

Directed by Michael Powell

Produced in 1960

Main Language - English

Countries & Regions - British Film

MovieMail's Review

One of the most psychologically complex and boundlessly inventive films ever to be made in Britain (let alone one of its more conservative eras), Michael Powell's psychological thriller is as audacious and important as the same year's Psycho. Unlike Hitchcock's classic, Peeping Tom was critically vilified and buried for nearly twenty years, only exhumed and rediscovered as a masterpiece thanks to the enthusiasm of Powell fans like Martin Scorsese, who contributes an introduction to this new DVD. Startlingly direct in its exploration of voyeurism and sadism, it's more disturbing than far more graphically explicit films because of the way it cunningly implicates the viewer in the obsessions of protagonist Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm). We recoil in horror from his crimes while being desperate to see more, especially if naked female flesh is thrown into the mix. Unlike most screen killers, Mark's boy-next-door normality is disconcertingly disarming – and he also has a plausible back-story, growing up the unwilling subject of experiments into the nature of fear by his morally bankrupt scientist father. The latter is played by Powell himself in one of many darkly witty touches, another being the delicious cameo by veteran Miles Malleson as an elderly pervert in a newsagent, or the sly mockery of the making of the kind of commercially safe film that Powell thought was destroying British cinema. In parallel with the moral knots of the central situation, there's an encyclopaedia of allusions and references to the process of seeing, whether directly or via the lens. Or, in one case, not involving the eyes at all: the one character that can see right through Mark is his would-be girlfriend's blind mother.
Although available on DVD in Britain for years, the American Criterion disc has been the connoisseur's choice until now. But Optimum's new special edition is a serious rival, offering a superb anamorphic transfer and wide-ranging extras, including two documentaries featuring Boehm, Scorsese, his editor (and Powell's widow) Thelma Schoonmaker, Bertrand Tavernier, Powell's son Columba, critics Ian Christie, Laura Mulvey and Charles Drazin, and psychoanalyst Olivier Bouvet. Christie also contributes an exhaustively researched commentary. Michael Brooke

Michael Brooke on 12th March 2007
Author of 154 reviews

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Film Description

Peeping Tom - Michael Powell's controversial and disturbing masterpiece about a focus puller whose relationship with his manipulative psychologist of a father leads him to obsessive voyeurism and murder, is now recognised as one of the supreme achievements of British horror cinema. In accurately linking the relationship between voyeurism and cinema it looked forward with intelligence to the franker treatment of sexual pathology to come. At the time though, it proved too much for critics to stomach and their hostility severely dented Powell's reputation.

DVD Details

Certificate: 15

Publisher: Studio Canal

Length: 97 mins

Aspect ratio: Widescreen

Format: DVD Colour

Region: 2

Released: 26th March 2007

Cat No: OPTD0739

DVD Extras

  • New and exclusive introduction by Martin Scorsese
  • Exclusive audio commentary by Michael Powell expert Ian Christie
  • New and exclusive interview with Thelma Schoonmaker (editor and Michael Powell's widow)
  • Documentary 'The Eye of the Beholder'
  • Documentary 'The Strange Gaze of Mark Lewis'
  • Original theatrical trailer
  • Behind-the-scenes stills gallery
  • 24-page booklet containing essay, interview with screenwriter Leo Marks and an extract from Michael Powell's autobiography 'Million Dollar Movie'.

Film Stills

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Community Reviews

by Barry Forshaw on 18th November 2010

For many years, it was received wisdom that Peeping Tom was the film that brought a halt to the career of one of Britain's greatest directors, Michael Powell. Certainl... Read on

“Notorious murder thriller which was years ahead of its time, and resulted in the downfall of its great director.”
by Jonathon Dabell on 9th September 2010

To understand the stir that Peeping Tom caused when it was released in 1960, you need to think about what audiences at that time were accustomed to when they went to t... Read on

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