Panoptismes – Voyeurism in cinema

The Cinémathèque française takes a look at the nature of 'looking' in cinema across the ages

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  • Playtime

    de Jacques Tati (1964)

    Playtime
  • Blow Up

    de Michelangelo Antonioni (1966)

    Blow Up
  • Fenêtre sur cour

    d'Alfred Hitchcock (1954)

    Fenêtre sur cour
  • Dogville

    de Lars Von Trier (2002)

    Dogville
  • Le Voyeur

    de Michael Powell (1959)

    Le Voyeur
  • Blow Out

    de Brian de Palma (1981)

    Blow Out
  • Le Diabolique Dr Mabuse

    de Fritz Lang (1960)

    Le Diabolique Dr Mabuse
  • The Truman Show

    de Peter Weir (1997)

    The Truman Show
  • Minority Report

    de Steven Spielberg (2001)

    Minority Report
  • Osterman Week-end

    de Sam Peckinpah (1983)

    Osterman Week-end
  • Reality

    de Matteo Garrone (2011)

    Reality

Playtime

de Jacques Tati (1964)

In an age when Big Brother has completed the transition from sinister Orwellian concept to wildly popular television show, the role of the cinema audience as voyeur is a hotter topic than ever. With ‘Panoptismes’, a retrospective of films that explore the various modes of observation permitted by the camera, the Cinémathèque Française joins the debate. 


The narrative begins in the ‘50s and ‘60s, when filmmakers fell in love with the notion of the camera as hidden witness: see Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ or Antonioni’s ‘Blowup’, two defining pictures of the period. In Michael Powell’s hugely controversial ‘Peeping Tom’, the camera acquires a more menacing presence, becoming the predatory tool of a murderous pervert. And in Jacques Tati’s prescient ‘Playtime’, the narrow viewpoint of the individual is replaced by the dispassionate collective gaze of the authorities, CCTV-style.


Fast-forward to recent decades, and the theme of social oppression through media is more vital than ever, thanks to the rise of television and the internet. Films such as Spielberg’s ‘Minority Report’ (based on a Philip K. Dick story) and Peter Weir’s ‘The Truman Show’ channel a zeitgeist of paranoia and awe over technological progress. As films about media in competition with cinema, they also raise a host of questions about representation and the future of narrative storytelling. But if all this sounds like heavy going, one look at the programme should make it clear that these films offer bucketloads of entertainment value as well. We’re getting ready for some serious viewing pleasure.


Runs at the Cinémathèque Française until January 19.



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