Throwing Darts in Lovers’ Eyes
An odd thing.
Michael Powell’s PEEPING TOM begins with the Archers’ target logo, and then a giant closeup of an eye (a painful juxtaposition). The eye pops open wide via jump-cut. Then we see a street, then the lenses of a cine-camera, concealed within the folds of a duffel coat, peering glassily out at the world.
Next, a POV of the street, with superimposed markings implying clearly that this is what the camera sees.
We approach a lady of the night — and she looks directly into the lens, which is eye-level with her, and says “It’ll be two quid.”
The thing nobody ever seems to point out is that, if Mark Lewis (Carl Boehm) has really hidden the camera in his coat at chest level, he must be about seven feet tall if the lady is looking straight into it. And why doesn’t she remark upon the fact that he’s filming her? And if his camera were really hidden effectively, surely she would NOT be speaking straight into it?
It would seem like a peculiar mistake, but I kind of like it. There’s something implied about Lewis’s psychotic identification with his movie camera: a suggestion that he sees the world as if through a camera lens. So this shot isn’t the actual POV of his camera, it’s an expressionistic take on his own POV. Possibly. At any rate, I thought it was worth pointing out that it doesn’t make any rational sense but is cool.
As my friend Lawrie said, “I laughed like a drain when I saw he’d made PEEPING TOM, because, of course, Mickey was the sadist of all time!”