in-store offers

10 of the best

Voyeurism on film

The allure of voyeurism beckons audiences to peer through the keyhole of human experience. The term, borrowed gracefully from the French vernacular, “voir” or “to see” takes centre stage as filmmakers employ the art of observation to unravel the enigmatic layers of desire, intimacy, and the delicate dance between public and private domains. The act of watching a film is inherently intertwined with the essence of voyeurism. Like a clandestine observer, audiences surrender to the allure of the silver screen, immersing themselves in the lives of fictional characters as they traverse the carefully crafted landscapes of filmmakers. This shared experience embodies a peculiar form of voyeurism, where spectators become silent witnesses to the unfolding narratives, peering into the personal and intimate moments of characters’ lives.
It also serves as a gateway to broader discussions about the ethical implications of observation, which resonates with the real-world challenges and ethical dilemmas posed by an increasingly interconnected and monitored society. The power of voyeurism, therefore, lies not just in its ability to captivate audiences within the confines of a movie theatre but in its capacity to stimulate broader societal conversations. As audiences engage with the complexities portrayed on screen, they are prompted to consider how these narratives intersect with their own lives and the world at large.
Here are 10 of our favourite films depicting Voyeurism on screen…

peeping tom (1960)

In Michael Powell’s Peeping Tom, the exploration of voyeurism and obsession unfolds through the lens of Mark Lewis, a reticent cameraman capturing women’s reactions to fear and their final moments. The film masterfully blends horror and psychological drama, delving into the intricate dynamics between the observer and the observed. Powell’s innovative use of the camera as both a weapon and a tool for self-discovery, along with the film-within-a-film technique, adds layers of complexity to this chilling examination of the human psyche. Initially criticised for explicit content, Peeping Tom has since emerged as a ground breaking work in the psychological thriller genre. Powell’s visionary direction and the film’s thought-provoking narrative secure its place as an enduring and influential masterpiece in cinematic history.

Blue Velvet (1986)

Under the enigmatic guidance of David Lynch, Blue Velvet emerges as a surreal neo-noir, peeling back the layers of suburban America’s shadowy underbelly. Kyle MacLachlan’s Jeffrey Beaumont stumbles upon a severed ear in a field, initiating a descent into a mysterious and unsettling realm. The narrative entwines Jeffrey with the alluring singer Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and the sadistic Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). Lynch’s intricate storytelling blurs the boundaries between reality and nightmare, laying bare the concealed perversions beneath suburban serenity. The film earned acclaim for its surreal visuals, haunting score, and Lynch’s masterful direction, crafting an indelible and disquieting cinematic venture that subverts traditional storytelling and challenges moral conventions.

rear window (1954)

In Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window, James Stewart portrays L.B. “Jeff” Jefferies, a wheelchair-bound photojournalist with a broken leg, who entertains himself by scrutinising his neighbours through his rear window. Convinced of a murder among them, Jeff, aided by girlfriend Lisa (Grace Kelly) and confidante Stella (Thelma Ritter), escalate tension as the mystery unfolds. Hitchcock adeptly weaves suspense through voyeurism, probing the moral quandaries of peering into private lives. The film’s meticulous set design, rich characters, and Hitchcock’s trademark narrative finesse converge in Rear Window, an enduring masterpiece that not only exemplifies suspense but also delves into the timeless exploration of human curiosity and the repercussions of prying into the lives of others.

The Conversation (1974)

Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation explores the realms of surveillance and privacy, presenting a psychological thriller that leaves a lasting impression. Gene Hackman’s nuanced portrayal of Harry Caul, an introspective surveillance expert tasked with recording what initially seems like an ordinary conversation. As Caul meticulously deciphers the cryptic dialogue, the narrative unfolds into a labyrinthine conspiracy, challenging not just his professional acumen but also his ethical boundaries. Notably, The Conversation is one of the five films featuring John Cazale during his impactful yet brief career. Coppola’s direction, coupled with a haunting score, contributes to the film’s tense atmosphere as the movie crescendos into a contemplative climax with Hackman’s compelling performance anchoring the narrative. The amalgamation of suspenseful storytelling, a mesmerising score, and the collaboration between Coppola and the talented cast elevates The Conversation to a significant cinematic experience.


body double (1984)

In Body Double, Craig Wasson portrays Jake Scully, an unemployed actor thrust into a web of intrigue after witnessing a grisly event. Jake’s fixation on a captivating woman observed through a telescope propels him into a realm of duplicity and peril. Director Brian De Palma deftly melds suspense and eroticism, paying homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. The film’s intricate narrative and visual flair craft a surreal ambiance, blurring the boundaries between reality and illusion. Pino Donaggio’s score deserves a special mention, it adeptly elevates the suspense, adding a layer of sophistication to the overall work. In it’s essence, Body Double fearlessly engages with provocative and controversial themes, delving into the ominous repercussions of unbridled desire. 

A short film about love (1988)

A Short Film About Love is a feature-length expansion of Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Dekalog TV series, specifically Dekalog: Six. Both the film and the Dekalog episode share common themes and characters, but they differ in terms of narrative scope and emphasis. At its centre is Tomek, a lonely postal worker whose voyeuristic gaze on his neighbour, Magda, evolves into a profound emotional entanglement. Kieślowski, with his distinctive visual flair and contemplative narrative, guides us through the ethical quandaries Tomek faces. The film adeptly navigates desire, intimacy, and the hazy borders between love and surveillance with a nuanced portrayal of human relationships, artfully revealing the profound impact of empathy on the human spirit.

blow-up (1966)

Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up stands as a ground breaking and cryptic venture into the realm of perception. At its core, the film follows the journey of Thomas, a chic London photographer portrayed by David Hemmings, who unintentionally captures a potential murder through his lens in a park. Antonioni, a maestro of storytelling, skilfully weaves a narrative that plunges Thomas into a maze of ambiguity and existential uncertainty. The central mystery becomes a metaphor for the elusive nature of meaning in the contemporary societal landscape, as Antonioni provocatively questions the very essence of truth and reality. Celebrated for its visual flair, inventive use of sound, and portrayal of the swinging ’60s London scene, Blow-Up persists as a reflective and influential piece challenging viewers to scrutinize the reliability of their own perceptions.

the lives of others (2006)

The Lives of Others is a stirring espionage German drama unfolding in Cold War-era East Berlin directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck. The narrative orbits around Stasi operative Gerd Wiesler, played by Ulrich Mühe, tasked with surveilling playwright Georg Dreyman, portrayed by Sebastian Koch. Yet, as Wiesler delves into Dreyman’s existence, a profound shift occurs – he empathizes with the artist’s struggles, growing disenchanted with the oppressive regime. The film adeptly probes themes of surveillance, morality, and the transformative potential of empathy. Mühe’s compelling performance, coupled with the film’s portrayal of East Germany’s clandestine police state, encapsulates the tension inherent in the narrative. The Lives of Others emerges as a contemplative and emotionally charged exploration of the repercussions of surveillance, transcending the observer and leaving an indelible mark on the observed.

dressed to kill

The second Brian De Palma film on this list, Dressed to Kill is a sleek and tension-laden erotic thriller unravelling a riveting murder mystery amidst the chic backdrop of New York City. The narrative trails a housewife, portrayed by Angie Dickinson, who unwittingly becomes a witness to a brutal killing. Joining forces with a call girl played by Nancy Allen and an unorthodox detective portrayed by Michael Caine, the storyline takes unforeseen twists and turns. De Palma’s precision in direction, infused with Hitchcockian echoes and a pulsating score, envelops the film in an atmosphere thick with suspense. Celebrated by film buffs for its startling plot twists, sensuality, and nail-biting sequences.

I Start Counting (1969)

In I Start Counting Jenny Agutter assumes the role of Wynne, a teenage girl navigating the complexities of adolescence alongside her stepbrother George, portrayed by Bryan Marshall. Wynne’s covert and fixated observations arise from romantic feelings toward George, but the plot takes a dark turn with a series of child murders disturbing their suburban haven. The film skilfully intertwines the subtleties of coming-of-age with a gripping murder mystery, exploring themes of innocence and the disruptive impact of external threats on personal growth. Also including the celebrated English composer Basil Kirchin’s evocative soundtrack which not only enhances but downright elevates the film’s atmosphere.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *