The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, that once again pairs together philosopher Slavoj Žižek and director Sophie Fiennes after the success of The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema, will screen at this year’s Cork Film Festival.
Starting from the provocative premise that political and commercial regimes regard us as ‘subjects of pleasure’, controlling us by offering us enjoyment, director Sophie Fiennes and charismatic philosopher Slavoj Žižek repeat the formula of their 2006 success.
The quirky, genial Žižek employs cleverly chosen clips from a huge variety of movie, including Brazil, M*A*S*H, The Sound of Music, and Brief Encounter, to illustrate his fascinating monologue, frequently appearing on sets and in costumes that replicate scenes from the films in question. For example, dressed as a chubbier, bearded Travis Bickle, he expounds the darker subtexts of Taxi Driver’s plot from within the anti-hero’s grotty apartment. This entertaining approach helps to ensure that what might otherwise have been a dense, even daunting, intellectual challenge is actually an engaging and unexpected delight.
This insightful, enjoyable documentary is Slavoj Žižek and Sophie Fiennes’ follow-up to their equally entertaining The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema. Whereas in their earlier collaboration, Žižek, the revered philosopher and psychoanalyst examined cinema from the viewpoint of psychoanalysis and in particular how the cinema acts as a representation of human desire, here he utilises films as a means to exemplify and consider diverse ideological concerns.
Žižek examines issues such as capitalism, religion, class and gender and how certain films either reaffirm or subvert traditional western values in relations to these themes. He examines high-profile titles such The Sound of Music, Taxi Driver and Titanic, while also drawing attention to the subversive qualities of lesser known pictures such as John Carpenter’s They Live! and John Frankenheimer’s Seconds. Žižek is particularly enthusiastic about the Carpenter film describing it as a ‘masterpiece’, while his assertions on class in relation to Titanic are priceless in their wittiness and astuteness.
Fiennes attempts at making the film cinematic, though admirable as that may be, are less successful. These attempts amount to simply inserting Žižek into the scenes of films he is referring to. This gimmick here seems every bit as tacky and uninspired as it did in the former collaboration between filmmaker and philosopher. However, despite the groan-inducing obviousness of Fiennes’ direction, the film is consistently engaging due to the agreeable, persuasive presence of the great Žižek.
Žižek manages to relate complex ideas in an accessible, humourous manner. His assertions are generally gloomy in relation to the picture they paint of humanity, but Žižek does end on a cautiously optimistic note. It may reflect badly on this reviewer that he admits this faint optimism was less compelling for him than scenes in which Žižek talks of the sexual undertones of songs in The Sound of Music or one particularly delightful moment when Žižek uncompromisingly faces the camera down proclaiming: ‘we are alone’. Perhaps the slightly unconvincing nature of the film’s last-gasp optimism is down to the film’s length. At 136 minutes the picture does feel overlong.
Ultimately though, despite some flaws, the film stands as a hugely entertaining, stimulating, and genuinely funny piece of work. This is essentially a one-man show and the film is a great showcase not only for the intellectual attributes of Žižek but also his performative capabilities.
135 mins The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology is released on 4th October 2013
The 11th Jameson Dublin International Film Festival (14-24 February 2013)
The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology
Sun, 17th February Light House 1 14.45 136 mins
A P Guide / Blinder Films Production for BFI and Film4 with the participation of Bord Scannán na hÉireann/the Irish Film Board in association with Rooks Nest Entertainment present The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology.
The makers of The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema return with The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology. Philosopher Slavoj Zizek and filmmaker Sophie Fiennes use their interpretation of moving pictures to present a compelling cinematic journey into the heart of ideology – the dreams that shape our collective beliefs and practices.
Director Sophie Fiennes will attend the screening.
The Perverts Guide to Ideology and Jump (both from Blinder Films) have been included in the line-up for the Palm Springs International Film Festival in California.
Jump, directed by Kieron J. Walsh (When Brendan Met Trudy, Vexed) and starring Martin McCann and Nichola Burley has also been nominated for the Cinema Without Borders ‘Bridging The Borders’ Award, at Palm Springs.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival runs 3-14 January, 2013
Jump screens on 10th & 12th January and The Perverts Guide to Ideology screens on 11th and 12th January at the festival.