Peeping Tom (Special Edition) DVD
This DVD is currently unavailable to order
Directed by Michael Powell
Produced in 1960
Main Language - English
Countries & Regions - British Film
Classic Horror Movies • Classic Movies Blu-rays • Crime - Horror • Crime - Thriller • Crime Blu-rays • Classic Horror Movies • Slasher Horror • Horror Blu-rays • Classic British Film • British Film Blu-rays
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 135 reviews
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.
Publisher: Optimum Releasing
Length: 97 mins
Aspect ratio: Widescreen
Cat No: OPTD0739
Format: DVD Colour
- 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'.
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
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. Certainly the high-minded disgust which greeted the film is truly hard to comprehend these days when looking at this immensely fascinating, rich and multifaceted work -- but there is an argument that the director's subsequent film, The Queen's Guard, a massive flop, had a signal effect on his career. This stunning Blu-ray edition from Optimum makes Powell's masterpiece look more impressive than it ever has before. Even if you have an earlier version, you owe it to yourself to investigate this key piece of British cinema. Hide
“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
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 the cinema. Innocent love stories, historical epics, action-packed westerns and colourful musicals were the staple cinematic diet of the time, certainly not dark, disturbing and intensely violent murder thrillers like this. What probably unsettled contemporary film-goers even more was the fact that a film of this kind could come from a much-loved and revered director like Michael Powell. In modern times, the equivalent would be if Steven Spielberg were to make a graphic and reviled film about paedophilia or bestiality, consequently never being allowed to stand behind a movie camera again. When Peeping Tom hit the big screen, it was rejected by the public and crucified by the critics, and left Powell's hitherto glorious career in ruin.
A film cameraman, Mark Lewis (Karl Boehm), displays psychotic tendencies as he murders women with a spiked tripod attached to the bottom of his camera, capturing on celluloid their final screams of agony. It is revealed that when he was a child, Mark was used as a guinea pig by his father (Michael Powell) in a series of psychoanalytical experiments about the symptoms of fear. Among other things, Mark's delightful dad would wake him throughout the night and shine lights in his eyes, drop lizards into his bed, and on one occasion even forced him to pose for photographs next to the dead body of his mother. As a result, Mark has an unhealthy obsession with fear and, in particular, the expression that people have on their face during moments of fear.
Peeping Tom is one of the few films that still has the power to shock all these years on. Psycho, released roughly at the same time, is still a great film but its shock value has been diminished by years of repeat viewings and increasing permissiveness in the cinema. But Peeping Tom is an altogether more disturbing piece of work. Boehm is excellent as the killer whose entire outlook has been skewed by his father's experiments. Also impressive is Anna Massey as the killer's fragile and unsuspecting fiance. Powell directs the film brilliantly, using bold and dazzling colours to disguise the horrific atrocities that punctuate his film. It is understandable that the film was met with revulsion and rejection at that time, but in retrospect it is a film of real importance and power. In a 21st century world bombarded and desensitised by harrowing images on the news and in the movies, the theme of losing one's grasp on what is and isn't morally acceptable is more pertinent than ever. This is not easy viewing, but it IS essential viewing.
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