Michelle reviews The Pervert's Guide To Ideology.
|"And then the toilet...went....|
In what ways are our ideologies shaped by popular culture? Do we perceive reality subjectively or objectively? Is religion a path to our salvation, or is it merely a method to corral our endless hedonistic pursuit for pleasure? How do movies like They Live, Taxi Driver, The Sound of Music and The Dark Knight tie into these intriguing concepts and questions? Director Sophie Fiennes’ documentary, The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology, attempts to make sense of all these subjects and more, all while providing mind-blowing insight to some classic and modern films.
This film is essentially a lecture given by Slavoj Žižek, a Marxist philosopher and psychoanalyst. He is an acclaimed author, and he's given many significant talks on Sociology and cultural studies. Žižek is generally considered to have radical political leanings and is very vocal on foreign policy. Luckily, he is also very charismatic and engaging to listen to, which makes the admittedly dense subject of ideology relatively easy to grasp in this context. The format is basic: clips from different movies are shown, Žižek explains the deeper themes presented, then parallels them with different philosophical concepts. Each idea is put forth clearly and concisely, but Žižek wanders off on a tangent or two along the way.
What differentiates this film from similar documentaries and TED Talks is the ingenious way it is filmed. Instead of simply cutting from the clips of the films to Žižek lecturing from a desk, they actually insert him into a scene from whatever film is being discussed. For example, when he is discussing The Sound of Music, they have him wearing priest robes in a church. When Full Metal Jacket is on the plate, they have him sitting in the bathroom from the infamous Private Pyle breakdown scene. It’s unique and very clever, and keeps what could be a very dry film interesting to the viewer.
Slavoj Žižek is from Slovenia, and his very thick accent can make him hard to understand sometimes. As I watched the film I gradually got used to it, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put on the subtitles if they're available. He also has a lot of physical tics (waving his hands, rubbing his nose, sniffing constantly etc.) that can be quite distracting at times. Luckily, it doesn’t detract from the overall message delivery in the film.
It is also quite long, clocking in at over two hours, but I didn’t feel it dragging at any point. Perhaps some individual topics will resonate more with other people, but I found all of it to be very interesting. Cinephiles and armchair philosophers alike will find a lot to enjoy and ingest from this film, so I highly recommend seeking it out.