Posts Tagged ‘Peeping Tom’


According to Laura Mulvey, “The cinema offers a number of pleasures. One is scopohilia” (2). In Michael Powell‘s Peeping Tom deals directly with the issue of scopophilia in the case of Mark Lewis, a young man who was abused as a child by a controlling father preoccupied with “the reaction of the nervous system to fear.” Although Mark’s scopophilia seems to be less about sex and more about his desire to please his dead father, Mulvey’s article can be useful in analysing many elements of this movie. Mulvey talks about the “traditional exhibitionist role” of women (4) and the male’s unconscious desire to punish her because she represents castration by her lack of penis (5). She also discusses the controlling male gaze (2) and women as property (5). These point are relevant in several ways. PEEPINGTOM24First, Mark controls the gaze of the audience when he takes control of the camera and we see what he sees. Second, the three women that he chooses to film are all performers (exhibitionists) of a sort. Third, by filming these women he takes possession of them and by killing them he seals that possession as permanent, literally catching their last moments of life. Forth, the method of death, the torment at the time of death, can be seen as a punishment for attracting his gaze to begin with.


I don’t particularly agree with this analysis. I think Mark’s story is more about missed love. First from his father and then from the girl downstairs that he discovered just a little too late. And it would seem that the director agrees with me. According to Carol Clover, Micheal Powell is quoted as saying that the movie was “a film of compassion, of observation, and of memory…a very tender film” (177).peepingtom3