There has been a great deal of fuss recently about the film Peeping Tom, mostly centred around the fact that its new release has been championed by Martin Scorsese. As I had only ever seen it on TV, I thought it would be a good idea to see it on a bigger screen, so I went to see it at Screen 5 of the Empire, Leicester Sq.
In a theatre of only 51 seats, I probably had the best. In the middle of the back row (there were only 5 rows!) with an aisle in front of me, so no heads to get in the way. The seats reclined backwards and were very comfortable. Initially, I thought it was going to be fairly empty but the punters spilled in during Pearl & Dean and in the end there were only a couple of empty seats. It was, however, at £12.95, vastly overpriced.
Despite being so small, the relative size of the screen and the seating positions meant that it was actually very similar to watching on a "proper" big screen.
It was pretty much as I remembered it. Very period, very stylised, even comic bookish (in fact it has the look of a graphic novel but from a time before such a thing existed, let alone a time when the cinema industry relies so heavily on them as source material!) and is somewhat overacted by modern standards. The colour process was extraordinary, adding to the overall sense of discomfort.
The film itself is an interesting idea, deeply flawed by the fact that this was a clearly unbalanced young man who insisted on drawing attention to himself by whipping out his cine camera at the most inappropriate moments It took most of the film before anyone noticed either of these things! Also, he had already moved far beyond being a peeping tom by the beginning of the film and had become what I suppose you could call a homicidal voyeur, but, then again, that wouldn’t have made such a snappy title!
The German accent of Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) is unexplained and inexplicable as he grew up in the same house in which he eventually died and the sheer naivety of Helen Stevens (Anna Massey) would be unacceptable were it not for the fact that in the real world there are something like 150 British Women engaged to men on Death Row in the US! All other cast members played their parts with varying degrees of subtlety, but none of them played the parts with too much! Moira Shearer just looked great!
Extremely controversial in its day and resulting in the end of director Michael Powell’s, previously illustrious, career. It remains an interesting, though uncomfortable, film.
It was certainly worth seeing on the big screen during this 50th anniversary season.