The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006)

The final film I saw at the Festival was this documentary, directed by Sophie Fiennes and starring the bizarre but fascinating Slavoj Zizek - sociologist, philosopher, film theorist. Although the title of the film alone would be enough to draw me in, I was thrilled to see a film about Zizek in the Festival line-up. His essays were regular readings in my Hitchcock class last semester, and they were always interesting, even if they did often go way over my head.

“The Pervert’s Guide” clocks in at over 150 minutes, and if you’re not already interested in people reading a lot into films, this won’t convert you. If you are in to film analysis, and Zizek’s politics don’t turn you off, then this is a lot of fun. Constructed as an extended overview of Zizek’s theories, Fiennes inserts the boisterous Slovenian into the various films he is discussing, either by actually visiting the locations (in the case of The Birds, Vertigo and The Conversation), or by shooting from within recreated sets (The Matrix, Mulholland Drive). It makes for an incredibly visually interesting journey through the world of cinema.

I am obviously partial to the content of this documentary. I am a huge fan of Hitchcock & Lynch, and Zizek’s theories find a welcome home in the films of those two directors. Hell, Zizek even manages to bring “The Revenge of the Sith” into the same discussion as “Blue Velvet”. What’s not to enjoy?

For anyone at all versed in film theory and analysis, and especially for anyone familiar with Zizek’s previous writing, there will doubtful be anything new here. What Fiennes succeeds at is presenting an incredibly interesting, effective, and fairly easy-to-follow overview of Zizek’s theories and opinions on cinema. I look forward to seeing this one again.