Martin Scorsese has just attended a special BAFTA screening of British horror movie Peeping Tom. The director was in London to introduce a new print of the 50 year old film with his long-term editor Thelma Schoonmaker, who just happens to be the widow of the Brit director of Peeping Tom, Michael Powell. The movie is about a young photographer and cameraman who secretly films women and then kills them. He films their dying moments and watches it back for his own twisted amusement. Its controversial subject matter and the extremely harsh reception by critics effectively destroyed Powell’s career as a director in the United Kingdom. Fifty years ago, Michael Powell was the darling of British cinema, thanks to the movies he directed with Emeric Pressburger, including A Matter of Life and Death, and The Red Shoes. And then he made Peeping Tom. The movie attracted a cult following in later years and is now considered a masterpiece.
Scorsese described how he and his pals (Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg) had struggled to see even a black-and-white version of the film in New York in the 1960s, so complete had its disappearance been after a slew of appalling reviews in the British press. “No one was sure it existed, it was like a rumour,” he said on Friday, describing Powell’s film as “about the madness of making movies and the danger of an artistic obsession”. He added: “In our society today, in the era of YouTube and surveillance, it is even more relevant. The morbid urge to gaze needs to be thought about today.”
Scorsese also mentioned how he’d discovered Powell’s ‘lost’ film in the 1970s when he became aware of a black and white 16mm print – a world away from the proper 35mm colour print. Scorsese was actually friends with Powell after being introduced by Michael Kaplan. At the time Powell was living in a Caravan in the English countryside.
Peeping Tom will have a limited cinema release in the UK from 19th November and will be available on Blu-ray from 22nd November.
Production year: 1960
Cert (UK): 18
Runtime: 109 mins
Directors: Michael Powell
Cast: Anna Massey, Carl Boehm, Esmond Knight, Karl Bohm, Maxine Audley, Moira Shearer
Please see the trailer below. For a full synopsis and posters please visit our British Movie Trailer Library here.