Zizek on Cinema



The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema by Slavoj Zizek is a fascinating look at a number of classic films through the lens of this famous, wildly free-thinking philosopher and psychoanalyst. No matter what you think of Freud, of his concepts such as the Ego and the Id, Zizek brings tremendous insight and creativity in his interpretations of such films as Psycho, Alien, The Exorcist, Vertigo, The Conversation, Mulholland Drive, The Birds, The Great Dictator, Blue Velvet, and that’s just in part one.

Zizek is known for his bold and simultaneously obscure pronouncements, such as “desire is a wound of reality”, and “there is nothing natural about our desires. We have to be taught what to desire”, and one of the roles of cinema is to show us, to lead us in this educational process.

He talks about “autonomous partial objects”, such as Dr. Strangelove’s hand. He compares several films’ use of the perspective of “seeing through cracks” (The Conversation, Vertigo, Blue Velvet). He speaks of the alien within us as symbolized by, of all things, the human voice (as in The Exorcist and Alien).

There are so many interesting parts of this film. I especially loved how he used the toilet flush scene from The Conversation, where the blood comes up and overflows, to describe the moment when we are in the theater, and the movie is about to begin, and he says, aren’t we really just sitting there, staring at a toilet, waiting for the shit to emerge? The shit, that part of us we don’t want to admit to, that we thought we got rid of by flushing it away.

You can watch it online through vimeo.com, along with a number of other Zizek videos.


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